18 villages covering 5700 hectares become community forests in Gwa Township, Myanmar

Eighteen villages in Gwa Township, Myanmar, received official community forestry (CF) certificates on 22 May, designating 5700 hectares of forests as official community forests. The CF certificates are an important step in securing tenure rights for local communities, a fundamental step in attaining sustainable, well-governed forests.

Myanmar’s Deputy Director General of Forestry, U Kyaw Kyaw Lwin; Ambassador Tonne Tines and Counsellor Harald Mathisen of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Yangon; and Maung Maung Than and David Ganz, RECOFTC, took part in the CF certificate ceremony along with 90 local community members and forest stakeholders.

The newly designated community forests are part of a project aimed at doubling the area of forest under community forestry to 85,000 ha in Myanmar. The project, ‘Scaling Up Community Forestry in Myanmar’ (SuComFor), is supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Yangon, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and implemented by RECOFTC.

Out of 31 million ha of designated forest area in Myanmar, 2.8 per cent is officially allocated for community forest. While the Government of Myanmar acknowledges the need to involve local community in managing the forest, more collective efforts and ground work are required to achieve the target.

The SuComFor project is working to develop capacities of CF key stakeholders in Myanmar; pilot CF in selected areas; analyze CF information through participatory process; and support the development of local and national CF policies and regulations and, ultimately, serving as basis for a national CF program. The project is now in its third year and is being implemented in seven areas: Pyapon (Ayeyarwady State), Pauk Kaung (Bago State), Kalaw (Shan State), Kanpetlet (Chin State), Myaing (Magwe State), Gwa (Rakhin State) and Yebyu (Tanintharyi State).