Description of plantation resources
Myanmar is rich in forest resources, including commercially important tropical hardwood species such as: teak (Tectona grandis), pyinkado (Xylia kerri) and padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus).
Despite a sizeable loss of forest cover over the years, closed forests still occupy more than 40 percent of the country's area. Since natural forest resources have been plentiful, forest plantations have played a minor role.
Development of forest plantations
A plantation of Tectona grandis is reported to have been established around 1700 in the Paletwa area of Chin State.
Regular planting of Tectona grandis by the taungya method was initiated in 1856 in Tharyawady in the Bago Division. Planting in those days was sporadic and in the order of approximately 10 ha at one time, mainly to compensate for lack of natural regeneration. The total area of teak plantations established up to 1906 was 24 282 ha when planting was interrupted due to criticism and in order to favour natural regeneration through improvement felling (FD, 1999a).
Planting was again resumed in 1918 and the taungya method became the standard practice. Xylia kerri and Acacia catechu were also planted. Bee-hole borer attack in Tectona grandis again led to a halt. The total plantation area slowed down and reached an annual planting rate below 700 ha until the early 1960s, when planting picked up again at a moderate scale, 2 000 to 3 000 ha per year. Total plantation area up to 1979 was 102 050 ha, of which about 56 percent was Tectona grandis (MF, 1996).
Large scale planting, however, began in 1980 and more than 30 000 ha of forest plantations have been planted annually since 1984. A peak of 38 168 ha was achieved in 1996 (MF, 1996).
Forest plantations in Myanmar are classified into four types: commercial; village supply; industrial (for supplying raw material to state-owned paper and pulp factories) and watershed.
In the early phase, about 80 percent of the plantations were for commercial purposes and the rest to meet fuelwood and small timber supply for the rural people in forest deficit areas, particularly in the central arid zone of Myanmar.
Eucalyptus spp. was introduced as a plantation species in 1968 and its annual planting was gradually increased. About 15 600 ha of Eucalyptus spp. were planted to 1980, mostly for fuelwood, poles and posts (FD, 1997 and FAO, 1981).
Myanmar started establishing watershed plantations in 1979 to restore degraded forests in the upland catchments of important dams. A Pilot Watershed Management Project aided by UNDP/FAO was initiated in 1987 and the full project has been implemented since 1994. Until the end of 1998, a total of 58 446 ha had been planted under watershed protection schemes (FD, 1999b).
The three native species, Tectona grandis, Xylia kerri and Pterocarpus macrocarpus, are mainly planted in the commercial plantations. In arid areas, exotic species like Acacia catechu, Cassia siamea and Albizia lebbeck are also planted. Among exotics, Eucalyptus camaldulensis is planted in industrial plantations in wet areas and for fuelwood in both, wet and arid areas.
Acacia auriculiformis, A. senegal, A. holocericea, Azadirachta indica and Leucaena leucocephala are planted in arid areas for fuelwood. At high elevations, Eucalyptus grandis, Pinus caribaea, P. patula and P. maximinoi are planted.
Among the main species, Tectona grandis constitutes 35.5 percent, Xylia kerri sp. 7.8 percent, Eucalyptus sp. 8.7 percent and Pterocarpus macroparpus sp. 1.7 percent.
Until 1991, only the Forest Department was empowered to establish forest plantations. After the adoption of the Forest Law in 1992, the private sector was allowed to establish plantations. Besides, community plantations were allowed to increase village wood supplies and timber for commercial purposes. Under the new law national, foreign and joint-venture companies are permitted to establish their own plantations to meet the needs of their industries (FD, 1997).
The Forest Department distributes seedlings free of charge to individuals, local communities and other organisations to encourage tree planting. More than 11 million seedlings have been distributed annually in recent years.
Genetic improvement and the use of quality planting material were not given adequate attention in plantation activities in the past. Selection of planting sites and appropriate species for them was not satisfactory. The lack of funds and qualified staff have constrained efficient protection, maintenance and monitoring of plantations (FD, 1997).
APCC. 1998. Coconut statistical yearbook 1997. Jakarta. Asian and Pacific Coconut Community
FAO. 1981. Forest Resources of Tropical Asia, Tropical Forest Resources Assessment Project. Technical Report 3, UN 32/6.1301-78-04. Rome.
FAO. 1998. In Proccedings of the National Workshop on "Strengthening Re-afforestation Programmes in Myanmar". Hwambi, Myanmar, 29 November-1st December, 1995
FD. 1996. Questionnaire reply on the evaluation of forest plantations. Yangon. Forestry Department.
FD. 1997. National progress Report - Myanmar. By Tint, K. In 16th Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission. Yangon. Forestry Department.
FD. 1999a. Teak Plantation in Myanmar. In Regional seminar on site, technology and productivity of teak plantations. Chiang Mai, Thailand. Yangon. Forest Department.
FD. 1999b. Forestry in Myanmar. Yangon. Forestry Department.
IRSG. 1997. Rubber statistics handbook 1975-1995. 5. London. International Rubber Study Group.
FD. 1996. Status paper of forestry sector in Myanmar. Ministerial meeting on Forestry for Five Continental South East Asian Nations. Hanoi, September 1996. Yangon. Forest Department.