The Myanmar and Chinese authorities plan to crack down on illegal timber trading routes along their long mutual border.
The decision was made at a meeting attended by senior officials from the forestry ministries of the two countries held at the Grand Amara Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw on January 13.
U Pyae Sone Oo, director of the investigation department of Myanmar’s forestry ministry, said: “We have found around 47 [border] routes used for illegal timber trade. Security has been tightened on these routes, as well as along the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers.”
Major routes for the illegal timber trade go through the Shan, Kachin and Chin states and the Sagaing and Mandalay regions.
U Pyae Sone Oo said the illegal timber trade reached a record high in 2014 and 2015, doubling in yearly volume compared with previous years.
China’s thirst for timber and wood products has grown dramatically over the last decade, according to observers, particularly in the furniture market.
Forestry officials say Myanmar has seized more than 140,000 tonnes of illegal timber during the period since President U Thein Sein’s government came to power in 2011 up until the end of December 2014.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry claims the authorities are unable to take action against illegal timber traders in the ethnic conflict zones.