During March and April this year almost 600 tons of illegally harvested timber was seized by authorities in Mandalay. The illegal timber was either in illicit log depots or loaded on trucks ready for transport.
Tamalan accounted for more than 500 tons of the total seized, a huge increase on the mere 50 tons seized in the same period a year before. About 400 tons of tamalan was seized during the ‟water festival‟ between 13th and 16th April. The Forest Department reported seizure of 502 tons of tamalan; 57 tons of padauk; 6 tons of teak 6 tons; 6 tons of pyinkadoe; 2 tons of red sandalwood and 13 tons of other species.
Between 29 April and 4 March over 1,000 tons of teak and non - teak hardwoods were seized by authorities across the country. The largest quantity was seized in Sagaing Division in the north says the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF).
FREDA Chairman Ohn, commented that, because of the log export ban, overland smuggling appears to be increasing. According to Weekly Eleven Journal the cost of illegally trucking Tamalan from Mandalay to Muse on the Myanmar China border could be as high as Myanmar Kyats 100,000 (roughly US$10,000) per trip.
From Namhsan and Kholan in the Southern Shan States to China, skirting the Kengtung area, truck owner will reportedly receive K90,000 per trip. Each truck can carry as much as 15 to 20 tons.
Analysts say that, because the authorities have stepped up operations against smugglers, the illicit trade has become more risky. However, the risks pale when such enormous profits are possible. Unless the government finds an answer to these activities, analysts say the situation may worsen.
Forest degradation from illegal activities is now viewed as a major cause of the increased risk of natural disasters and the domestic media are trying to raise public awareness of these issues.