Over 30,000 tonnes of logs seized in Myanmar

Over 30,000 tonnes of logs seized in Myanmar
Seized logs in Kayah State, late 2013.

In the first seven months of this year, more than 30,000 tonnes of illegal logs were seized during surprise checks, according to the director of the inspection department of the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry.

Between April and October of this fiscal year, the ministry seized 7,200 tonnes of teakwood, 12,383 tonnes of hardwood and 11,701 tonnes of other wood logs.

A total of 3,877 Myanmar citizens and nine foreigners were arrested in connection with illegal smuggling during this period.

Vehicles, motor boats, machinery and tools that were used for smuggling were also seized.

The log smuggling industry is still on the rise due to high demand by Chinese buyers. Teak and Tamalan are most sought-after woods.

According to sources, the authorities are only able to seize illegal goods if they receive outside information indicating that smuggling is taking place.

Law enforcement has not been able to eliminate the smuggling, despite the frequency of inspections and surprise checks.

"We can only conduct a surprise check when someone informs us about smuggling.

The Myanmar-China border has many toll gates. Of course, it would be better if we could inspect every truck passing through the toll gates. But each truck inspection takes at least 15 minutes, and this leads to traffic jams. So we only check suspected vehicles," an officer from the ministry said.

Sources also claimed that there are many Chinese nationals who have entered Myanmar to smuggle woods and other natural resources.

In 2013, at least 100 Chinese nationals were arrested, but no effective actions were taken to prevent further incursions.

Win Tun, the Union Minister for the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, told the parliament in September that log trading had been banned throughout the country since April, yet illegal log trading remains on the rise.

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