As the trade sanctions imposed on Myanmar were suspended one important question was posed by the stakeholders: “Will Myanmar be able to export timber to the EU considering the EUTR requirements and definition of legality”? Hence, the goal of evaluating forest and timber legality issues of Myanmar was to support the development of long term sustainability solutions of the forest and timber industry. In addition, the Myanmar government and timber industry showed increased interest in improving the management of forest.
On the behalf of the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF), Preferred by Nature therefore conducted a legality analysis which provided an overview of potential risks of legal non-compliances in the forest sector in Myanmar, and provided inputs for how these risks can be managed and support the efforts to enable Myanmar to export legal and, on the long term, certified sustainable timber to the international markets.
The main objective of the project was to conduct a legality analysis of the forest sector in Myanmar which included the identification of:
- applicable legislation for forest management and transport of timber
- potential gaps in current forest management practices in Myanmar between the legal framework requirements and actual practice
- weaknesses in the existing legal framework (laws and regulations), that hinder effective verification of legality and identification of timber origin at the point of export
The analysis drew upon expert knowledge, primary and secondary sources of information (data, statistics etc.), supported by consultation with key stakeholders (industry, government, civil society representatives, development partners etc.). Field visits to forest management areas were also included in the evaluation. More specifically, the following activities were conducted:
- Identification, compilation and review of all applicable laws, rules and regulations relating to forest management and forest products processing, transport and trade in Myanmar
- Review of existing literature related to forest management and forest products processing, transport and trade in Myanmar
- Field evaluations of forest management areas
- Development of a generic supply chain model that maps the timber supply chains from the harvesting sites until the points of export, and describes the relevant documentation and licensing procedures
- Recommendations were proposed to address gaps identified in the study (gaps in the existing legal framework and gaps in implementation)
- Presentation of the preliminary findings of the study at a joint meeting of the Myanmar Timber Merchants Association and Myanmar Timber Enterprises with local civil society stakeholders
The expected results of the project was a report that described how Myanmar’s current timber tracking system controls and documents timber flows along identified timber supply chains, i.e. from the forest of harvest (i.e. natural forest production areas, conversion areas, plantation forest etc.) to the point of export. The report identified potential gaps or weaknesses in the current system and made recommendations for improvement. The report also contained a section expanding on the identified potential gaps to their relevance on the forest sector in Myanmar in general, with the purpose of providing a preliminary indication of methods for evaluating the risks that timber from Myanmar may be illegal.
In addition, a report on the operations of three randomly selected forest management areas was prepared. This included an assessment of the current forest management and identified potential gaps between applicable legislation and practical implementation in the forest management areas.