Myanmar suspended timber exports from April 1 to ensure sustainable utilisation of forest reserves and enhance environmental protection and biodiversity, according to the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MECF).

The country only exports finished or semi-finished wood products with the aim of developing manufacturing technology and creating business opportunities for local people, the ministry said.

In the 2014-2015 year, around 60,000 tonnes of teak and 67,000 tonnes of timber are expected to be produced, down from about 200,000 tonnes of teak and 1.2 million tonnes of timber in the 2012-2013 period.

Myanmar exported 485,600 tonnes of teak logs and 724,200 tonnes of hardwood in 2012-2013, earning over 327 million USD and 209 million USD, respectively.

Forest coverage made up 57 percent of the country’s total area between 1980 and 1990, but it has shrunk to the present figure of 47 percent.

Licence validity for saw and plywood mills was extended from one year to five years in 2013, the ministry added.-VNA