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Deforestation is further accelerating in Myanmar due to increasing population and economic development

Article title

Forecasting forest areas in Myanmar based on socioeconomic factors

Author (affiliation)

Tetsuya Michinaka (a), Ei Ei Swe Hlaing (b), Thaung Naing Oo (b), Myat Su Mon (c), Tamotsu Sato (d)

(a) Tohoku Research Center, FFPRI, Morioka, Iwate, Japan.

(b) Forest Research Institute, Yezin, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.

(c) Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.

(d) Department of Forest Vegetation, FFPRI, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Publication Journal

Forests, 11(1), 100, MDPI, January 2020, DOI: 10.3390/f11010100( External link )

Content introduction

Myanmar has been undergoing the world's third greatest annual loss of forested area, behind Brazil and Indonesia. With the advance of democratization since the late 2000s, the area of forestland has been noticeably decreasing. In order to implement the international mechanism REDD+ to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by restraining the deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, the Myanmar government submitted a Forest Reference Level (FRL) based on average values of deforested areas from 2005 to 2015. This would be a baseline (or standard) for measuring actual restraining effects. However, the calculation of FRL did not consider the effects of socioeconomic development.

Against the backdrop of declining forested areas in Myanmar, the present study considered the effects of population increase and economic development instead of direct factors such as conversion into farmland and land development. An econometric model based on data obtained from 2005 to 2015, such as forested area, population, gross national product (GDP), etc., was used in the analysis. Furthermore, to also consider effects of socioeconomic development in the near future, forested areas were estimated from 2016 to 2020. As a result, it was found that the deforestation areas may be accelerating in conjunction with population increase and economic development, and that the values of deforestation estimated by the model were higher than the FRL data compiled by the Myanmar government (Table 1), indicating that FRL needs to be revised upward. The results of the present study should be able to contribute to the progress of REDD+ and the improvement of forest policies in Myanmar.


Figure 1 Results of forested area estimations using 3 scenarios  

Figure 1 Results of forested area estimations using 3 scenarios of per capita GDP growth rate (low, medium, high) and a medium-level population projection.


Table 1 Forecasted values of annual deforestation
Table 1 Forecasted values of annual deforestation (unit: 1000 hectares).