Unleashing the potential of community forest enterprises in Myanmar
Unleashing the potential of community forestry enterprises in Myanmar will increase local incomes and government revenues, and incentivise local people to manage and restore forests. Without enlisting the help of rural communities in these efforts, it is likely that forest loss will continue and the contribution of forests to the rural economy will continue to decline.
This report presents field research highlighting particularly promising community forestry enterprise options that can be integrated successfully with existing agricultural systems. The report urges a more concerted effort towards the government’s Forest Master Plan target of 918,000 hectares of community forestry (2.8% of the total forest area) by 2030, which are drastically behind schedule. It also recommends raising tenfold the level of government ambition by introducing a new target of allocating 25 per cent of the total area of Myanmar forest to communities – matching roughly the global average for forest controlled by local groups. Doing this by 2030 could make six million people forest user group members and make community forest enterprises a genuine engine of rural economic growth. A series of recommendations are presented that would help to unblock some of the current constraints to community forestry enterprises in Myanmar. These resonate strongly with the Government of Myanmar’s new emphasis on support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), spearheaded by the President. But it will require concerted effort and a strong partnership between government and civil society groups to install a market-led approach to community forestry.