Encouraging sustainable forest use key to benefiting people relying on forests

With the support of Finland and the Food Agriculture Organization-FAO, we are implementing a five-year national-scale forest inventory project which is designed to allow for monitoring of forests in a manner that is sensitive to local conflicts and protects human rights.
The project is innovative in taking a conflict sensitive and human rights-based approach to forest monitoring.
This has global relevance as it will provide insights into how to bolster sustainable forests in other fragile countries affected by conflicts that are frequently exacerbated by disputes over tenure and access to natural resources.
In Myanmar, forests contribute to the livelihoods of around 80% of the population who live in the country’s rural areas and rely on the country’s estimated 29 million hectares of forests for basic needs and services. It also has a special focus on engaging the more than 100 different ethnic groups, each with its own history, culture and language or dialect, who living in the country.
Meanwhile, there are many conflicts or mixed governance land areas, which pose particular challenges in working and engaging ethnic peoples and stakeholders in the measurement of forests.
To avoid conflicts related with forests and land management, including settlement in forest reserves, we would like to urge the stakeholders including local authorities and communities to cooperate with each other in this new project as it will ensure that the socio-political and cultural context is explicitly addressed through appropriate conflict sensitive and Rights based approaches.
When it comes to implementing the five-year project, it is required to discuss with those who are involved in the project, with respect to collecting forest resource data in a manner that will mitigate the socio-economic impacts, and to share the data with all concerned.
This new project comes at a time when we are in urgent need of better and updated data about the state of all the forests in our country. This data will help to better plan and evaluate sustainable forest use and conservation in our country together with all stakeholders, public and private and also in the land areas of our ethnic brothers and sisters.
At the same time, we should note that answering questions on openness of data and building trust between the local communities and forest authorities on the use of data is key to success of the first phase of the conflict sensitive and human rights-based approach to forest monitoring.

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