8 million euros from Finland boosts FAO Forestry project fighting climate change in Myanmar

©FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri25 May 2017, Rome - An 8-million euro grant from the Government of Finland will fund a major new FAO-led project designed to strengthen Myanmar’s capacity to collect and analyze forest resource information that is critical to the country’s work in addressing climate change.

The five-year project, which officially began this month, supports Myanmar’s efforts through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) towards keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius — an objective set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The project, valued at USD 8 337 700, will help Myanmar to design, develop, plan and implement a National Forest Inventory (NFI) and National Forest Monitoring and Information System (NFMIS) with support from FAO’s REDD+ and Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) teams.

With 43 percent of its land area covered by forest, Myanmar has the second-largest forest cover – and some of the most ecologically intact forest – in South-East Asia, with globally significant biodiversity resources.

However, Myanmar’s average annual rate of deforestation is estimated at about 1.2 percent -- one of the highest rates in Asia. Further, information concerning deforestation and forest degradation in Myanmar is weak — the most recent forest inventory is about 30 years old and did not cover the entire country.

The forestry sector of Myanmar has great potential for generating and diversifying production and exports, project documents show. But there has been a trend towards unsustainable use of resources through over-cutting, driven by illegal logging and trade, shifting cultivation and fuelwood extraction, as well as agri-business conversions for palm oil, cassava, sugar cane, and rubber. The biggest challenge now is to change that trend into one that favours sustainable resource use.

“FAO is a natural candidate to provide assistance in the implementation of the proposed project because it has the capacity and knowledge to provide ‘cutting edge’ tools and methods for forest monitoring, REDD+ implementation and climate change adaptation,” said Tiina Vahanen, FAO Coordinator for REDD+.

“FAO supports the collection of quality forest resource data on which to base policy decisions in the forest sector, linked to national sector plans and REDD+ programme.”

Although several government-led processes, including a national forestry plan, are being implemented in Myanmar, their success is hampered by a lack of up-to-date information on forest resources and forest-related land uses and socio-economic issues, according to the project documents. Implementation of REDD+ also depends on a forest monitoring system with focus on carbon stocks estimates.

FAO’s technical expertise in forest monitoring and assessment will help Myanmar forest specialists to build capacity and will including training in state-of-the-art knowledge and technology from across a range of sustainable forest management tools. Such monitoring and assessment of forest resources is crucial for understanding, and then working to mitigate, the effects of climate change.

The project involves a wide range of Myanmar’s ministries and departments as well as the University of Forestry and Forest Research Institute in Yezin, other national and international education and research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector and organizations with interests in forest resource management, nature conservation, timber trade, and forest governance monitoring and extension. Stronger links with relevant institutions in Finland are also expected as a result of the project.

The Myanmar project contributes to enhancing equitable, productive and sustainable natural resource management and utilization, a strategic objective of FAO. It will also contribute to Finland’s Country Strategy for Development Cooperation in terms of its objective to achieve climate resiliency through sustainable forest management.

last updated:  Friday, May 26, 2017