What Can  Myanmar Learn from Brazil to Decrease Deforestation?

05 Sep 2017

Taunggyi community forest with a river running through In Myanmar, the potential for mitigation of climate change through reducing deforestation and forest degradation is comparatively high.

Think about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, usually from the energy and transport sectors come to mind. But globally around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated through forest loss and forest degradation.
In Myanmar according to government data, the annual forest loss for the last 10 years is  around 1.9% (645,000 ha annually), while the rate of reduction of Closed Forests, which goes largely into Open Forests, is around 4.6% annually (around 730,000 ha). Thus the potential for mitigation of climate change through reducing deforestation and forest degradation is comparatively high.
Brazil has been successful in decreasing deforestation in the Amazon, the largest contiguous tropical forest area in the world. This is why a delegation of Governemnt officials and members of the UNREDD team visited Brazil in July. I was part of that team.
During the nine-day visit, the delegation saw many examples of how public and private institutions coordinated their actions to fulfill goals across different sectors, and what their roles and responsibilities were at different levels.  We met with the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Environment; Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication; and Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply; the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, the National institute of Spatial Research, the Brazilian Development Bank, the National Confederation of Agriculture, and offices of the government of the State of Para.
The general impression I got was that targeted actions in critical areas of deforestation and prioirity municipalties was the backbone of any effective action plan, and such a plan needed to be supported by  a timely and continuously updated information system. In fact, since 2010, an action plan covering the Cerrado-Savanna forests has been in place. The  plan focuses on four interlinked areas of action: land tenure and territorial planning; environmental monitoring and control; incentives for sustainable activitie;  and regulatory measures and economic tools.  The Cerrado-Savanna forests are adjacent to the Amazon - where most of the agricultural activities are taking place, e.g.  soya and other grains. What was also impressive to learn was that,  according to figures shown by the Ministry of Agriculture, over the last 30 years the expansion of grain production has not been at the expense of additional land.
Through the study visit, the delegation clearly understood that reducing deforestation can be achieved when the government, private sector and communities work  together and take priority actions in areas where deforestation is reaching critical levels. The Myanmar delegation could well relate to this. After the visit, the need for research and technology development in agroforestry and climate smart agriculture complementing the REDD+ policies also became clearer.
Now, as the plan to develop Myanmar’s National REDD+ Strategy for Myanmar progresses, we can be sure to reflect the lessons from Brazil’s experience in reducing deforestation.