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Forest Sector and Restoration and Reforestation Program Review in Myanmar

Program Summary

This PROFOR activity aims to assess the strengths and limitations of Myanmar’s forest sector, with specific emphasis on the National Restoration and Reforestation Program and its community forestry aspects. The Government of Myanmar has issued very clear targets and actions to achieve large scale restoration and reforestation, which form the cornerstone of the national climate change response agenda and Myanmar’s contribution to global climate change mitigation. This activity will be part of a larger country analytical work, the Country Environmental Assessment, which will contribute to the development of a broad overview of the linkages between environment and development, highlighting the potential role of forestry in enhancing social inclusion and reducing conflict.

Challenge

The exceptional natural resource endowment of Myanmar – from forests, biological diversity, fisheries, and land through hydropower, oil and gas, gems, and minerals – forms the principal source of economic growth and social wellbeing in the country. Nearly 40% of its GDP comes from primary industries including agriculture, forestry and fisheries (ADB Myanmar Diagnostic 2014). However, these resources are under tremendous exploitation pressure, resulting in the highest rate of deforestation in South East Asia (ADB 2015) and loss of nearly 20% of its forest cover between 1990 and 2010 (EIU April 2017).

Myanmar’s forests have also been home to recent internal ethnic conflicts that were largely located in timber and mineral-rich areas. The underlying causes of the conflict are largely political, but access to natural resources, including timber, has been fought over and sustained Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) over the years. The ongoing peace process has brought large regions under civilian government control. This presents new opportunities for forest management to transform forests over time from a source of conflict to a platform for improving social inclusion, local cooperation and civic engagement.

Approach

The program consists of activities grouped under two phases:

1. Forest Sector Review:

This phase will consist of a technical literature review, analyzing existing data on the social, conflict, economic and ecological dimensions and trends of forests in Myanmar, as well as on current policy and strategy. Where possible, statistics will be applied to evaluate significant relationships among variables within the sector.

a) Forest contribution to rural livelihoods and national economy

This activity will include a review of the importance of forests for improving livelihoods and poverty reduction, and their contributions to the economy directly as well as through other sectors.

b) Forest Smart Interventions

The focus is on assessing the importance of forests to other sectors, and the ecosystem services they provide to contribute to economic productivity and climate resilience of these sectors. On the flip-side, the assessment will also review the main drivers of deforestation and aim to identify solutions to address them and find ways to strengthen the engagement in the forest sector from a programmatic, multi-sectoral and forest smart approach lens.

2. Assessment of the National Reforestation and Forest Rehabilitation Program (NRRP) (2017 – 2027) with special focus on community forestry and tenure.

a) Spatial assessment of forests, forest degradation, opportunities for restoration and poverty and conflict related data

This activity will map the link between forests and poverty and conflict. Spatial data on national forests, historic deforestation, and opportunities for restoration will be paired with national poverty data and conflict maps. This activity will be executed in partnership with IUCN and other ongoing initiatives on poverty and conflicts led by the Asia Foundation and work by the World Bank on poverty data.

b) Assessment of community forestry initiatives in Myanmar and its governance and policy aspects

This assessment will examine ways that community forestry, non-traditional sources of timber and forest-based livelihood activities are currently recognized within the national (or state and region) policy and regulatory frameworks and identify ways to incentivize community forestry through improved commercial prospects for legally and sustainably community-produced timber and forest products.

c) Overall Assessment of the National Reforestation and Forest Rehabilitation Program

This assessment will

  1. Assess government institutions involved in the delivery of the Restoration Program, including staffing, incentives, budgets and partnerships. Major focus should be on the conflict-affected areas and areas where the Program can promote social inclusion.

  2. Assess (and communicate to stakeholders in real time) actual program implementation using an innovative and cost-effective geotagging (geo-enabling) application using open source and Android operating system and phones/tablets

  3. analyze two or three larger ongoing restoration initiatives (supported by IUCN, ADB and possibly others) related to their technical and implementation arrangements, lessons learned and approaches;

  4. prepare recommendations for the National Reforestation and Forest Rehabilitation Program based on previous assessments of technical opportunities and social priorities, lessons learned and results from the overall governance assessment;

Results

Work on both key outputs of this activity is ongoing; however, early findings and analysis have already fed into the Myanmar Strategic Country Diagnostic. Preliminary recommendations informed concept design of the World Bank pipeline forestry operation (Forest Restoration, Development and Investment Project [$200 million IDA]). Initial recommendations from the MRRP community forestry assessment allowed the team to propose inclusion of community forestry activities under two other pipeline operations in the conflict affected areas in Myanmar: Peaceful and Prosperous Communities Project (US$200 million) and the Rakhine Development Project (US$100 million). 

More results will be reported as the implementation of this project progresses over time.

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Last Updated : 06-07-2019

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