Oct 21, 2020

A research was conducted at the National University of Singapore under the supervision of Daniel Richards and Daniel Friess with respect to the alarming rate of depletion of the mangrove forests in Myanmar since 1996 to 2016. The research led to the drastic discovery of a sixty per cent decline in the area of forest space from 1996 to 2016 owing to reasons of paddy cultivation, oil palm, rubber and shift to urban infrastructure. Another research surfaced in March 2020 regarding the same that has led to a stir for reasons of Myanmar’s deforestation to be considered as a catastrophe

In actuality, the proportion of mangrove forests among earth's total forest area in the world is only less than one per cent. However, still, it proves to be the most efficient kind of forest structure that exists due to its ecological and socio-economic benefits. In the study published in the Environmental Research Letters one of the scientist observes that "Mangroves are one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, and Myanmar is regarded as the current mangrove deforestation hotspot globally,”

Myanmar is categorised as a developing nation, and the country places heavy reliance on the forests. Still, the deforestation in the country of Myanmar is not farsighted and is for short term economic gains. The reasons for deforestation in Myanmar can be summed up on these main reasons, which are:

  • Excess usage for logging, wood fuel and shifting cultivation
  • Mining, space clearance for agriculture and infrastructure
  • Farming of majorly oil palm, rubber, and sugar cane.
  • Hydro-electric dams and reservoirs

The authors in the study have highlighted that "As a result of the lack of environmental safeguards and continuing economic transformation in Myanmar, we may expect mangrove conversion to rice and other agriculture to continue to displace large areas of mangrove in this country in the future."

Other than the above, it has to be noted that the country indulges in the export of natural resources and timber. Myanmar exports nearly 1.6 million tonnes of teak internationally, and there are claims of illegal exportation too. Nearly seventy per cent of the population is dependent on the forest in Myanmar. Myanmar is not only subject to human exploitation of forest but also is unfortunate with respect to frequent natural disasters leading to the erosion of topsoil in the forest.

The deforestation in Myanmar has given rise to serious consequences of global warming, loss of soil fertility resulting in an adverse effect to agriculture as such leads to crop failure, a threat to the sustenance of the diverse species in the prevailing ecosystem, the livelihood of the forest dependant people are at stake as well as the coastal environment is weakened.

The study that was published in 2020 has recommended constant monitoring of the activities and change in forest areas to take adequate measures. There is a need to strike a balance between agriculture and deforestation. There is also an existence of the vicious circle of deforestation that has been linked to the poverty levels in the country that needs to be addressed.

The matters that need to be sorted out at the immediate outset include the illegal exportation of timber to neighbouring countries firstly; the poverty-stricken population will indulge in the illegal use of forest resources so long as the government does not come up with a plan and secondly reforestation is the urgent need.

The study points out that, “The fate of mangroves in the country will be tied to the strength of policies and implementation of conservation measures. Through proper long-term planning, management and conservation, this resilient ecosystem can recover and be maintained for the future.”

So long as there is depletion of mother nature’s resources and no efforts to recuperate the dying nature, there are high chances of non-reversal to a stable environmental condition. With respect to Myanmar being a developing nation, the cost of development will be unavoidable deforestation resulting due to man-made and natural causes for a few more years. Still, there must be a tremendous centralised effort in the country for reforestation even from the community level to face the consequences in the future both nationally and globally.