A NEW ERA IN FOREST MANAGEMENT IN MYANMAR
Guided by REDD+, a new era of forest management is unfolding in Myanmar. In a country where deforestation and forest degradation account for some 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, protecting forests is more important than ever. In 2010, Myanmar had the third highest annual rate of deforestation after Brazil and Indonesia, according to a report by FAO. In the face of this environmental challenge, the Government of Myanmar is committed to REDD+, and, since 2016, the country has been elaborat-ing its national REDD+ strategy with technical support from UN-REDD.
“REDD+ is very important for us because Myanmar is very sensitive to climate change,” says Ohn Win, Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation of Myanmar. “We need to protect our forests in order to protect our future.”
“REDD+ is very important for us because Myanmar is very sensitive to climate change,Ohn Win
In 2019, Myanmar marked a milestone in its REDD+ journey when it presented its national REDD+ strategy to diverse stakeholders for validation at a two-day workshop attended by nearly 200 participants in its capital city Nay Pyi Taw. The workshop was the culmination of a long and arduous two-year process during which 50 consultations were conducted across the country, spanning diverse sectors, including with government departments, line ministries, expert review committees, ethnic groups, ethnic armed organizations, civil society and indigenous peoples organizations.
“If we are to collectively conserve and sustainably manage our forests, we must overcome our history and establish an era of trust,” says Ye Myint Swe, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation of Myanmar. “It is an exciting time as we move towards a new era of forest management in Myanmar.”
Myanmar’s national REDD+ programme has created an invaluable forum for the Government to engage with groups it would not ordinarily interact with. “This is the first time that such a process has happened in Myanmar,” says Naw Ei Ei Min, director of POINT, an indigenous organization that works to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are protected during the REDD+ process. “The forestry department is the first Government agency to discuss indigenous peoples’ rights. By engaging in REDD+, we are engaging in our country’s peace process.”
The degree of difficulty of drafting the country’s national REDD+ strategy with so many diverse, and at times competing, voices and amid its ongoing internal conflict, should not be minimized. As noted by workshop participant, Sonny Mahinder, General Secretary of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front: “Before 2013, I was in the jungle fighting against the military. Since then, I’ve become involved in the ongoing peace process. Our country is facing problems with deforestation. Everybody needs to work on fighting climate change, not only as a country, but also as individuals. REDD+ allows us to work together.”