Forest policy

Kaw Htoo Lei Forest Policy


There are many important reasons why this policy has been written.

1. The forest is the most important natural resource for the Karen livelihood and for maintaining environmental balance.

2. The KNU has reorganized the forestry department and given it the legal power to regulate forests.

3. The people already have knowledge about the forest passed down from their ancestors.

4. The SPDC government is planning to exploit the Karen forest and its natural resources to the benefit of its leadership.

The policy will improve Karen forest management systems today and for the future. This policy is the most important step in connecting the rules with the forest resources. The policy aims to empower the local people and allow them to participate and cooperate with the KNU forestry department in forest management. Capacity of local people and the forestry department to manage the forest in a sustainable way will be increased.

We hope this first policy of the Karen Forestry Department will enable local leaders and thepeople to pursue sustainable development of their natural resources. The policy will be amended and updated if changing circumstances require.

Karen Forestry Department
The Office of KNU Central Committee

1. Why is a forest policy necessary?

For generations, the Karen people have depended on the forests for their livelihoods. The Karen People’s traditional beliefs, culture, and security are deeply linked with the forest resources and environment. Karen people have learned how to use the forest in a sustainable way and have avoided over-exploiting the forest resources. There have been many species in the forest whose use by Karen people has been banned for many centuries. These practices have been passed down from generation to generation.The indigenous knowledge of forest management has never been written down. Now is the time to review the informal and unwritten practices and ensure that KNU Forest Policy is consistent with sustainable indigenous practices. Today, changes in development and education have affected traditional Karen forest management. The younger generations ignore traditional practices and this knowledge may be lost if it is not preserved.

The current political problems in Burma have also contributed to the abandonment oftraditional practices. The SPDC knows that Karen people live in the forest and are dependent on its resources. The army destroys the forest, either directly or indirectly, to harm the Karen People and continue its genocide against them. The increase of the Karen population also contributes to the degradation of the forest the people expand agriculture areas, do illegal logging activities, burn the forest, and engage in wildlife trade. Because the Karen people are so dependent on the forests, for its resources and for protection from the SPDC, they require sustainable forest management practices. Karen people require a sustainable forest policy at all times, during the conflict today as well as once the conflict is over.

This policy shall not damage Karen livelihoods, culture, or religion. It shall fix the community desire as well as the international perspective on the declaration of forest management by the UN.The policy shall help the livelihood of Karen people, increase biodiversity, and further the development of Karen people.
2. Goals: What will the policy achieve?

This policy will guide people on how to protect, conserve, and use forest resources in a sustainable way.

Local people’s livelihood:

A. To maintain the local people’s livelihood, which is connected with forest resources

B. To empower the indigenous people, using their knowledge of forest management, their traditional way of life, and their cultural and religious practices.

Human Security:

To prevent deforestation that threatens the local people’s human security, especially considering the unstable political situation in Burma.


To secure the biodiversity of flora and fauna, especially threatened species.


Ecosystem services:

To promote ecosystems that enable appropriate livelihoods through sustainable use of land and species, protecting water and air quality; and undertaking actions that prevent erosion, drought, flooding, water pollution, climate change, landslides, and other natural disasters by conserving the forests.

Sustainable development:
To encourage the use and management of forest resources for economic and social development purposes in a sustainable manner.
- People’s participation
To empower the citizens and the local people, including women, in decision making so everyone can have a leadership role in forest management at all levels.
- Public awareness:
To promote public awareness relating to forest knowledge and environmental conservation knowledge at both the upper and grassroots levels throughout the Karen State.
- Capacity building:
To build capacity among the local people and forest officials on how to manage the forest according to this forest policy.

3. History - what has happened before? why do we need to change policy.

The ancestors of the Karen who first settled down into this area were called Kaw Lah. and now Burma claimed the country was full of green vegetation, fertile soil, abandons fish and wildlife so this abundant natural resources giving the opportunity for the Karen people to inhibited in this land peacefully [sentence unclear]. These people mostly settled in the plain areas that are close to rivers and streams, and their livelihoods depended solely on agriculture. After many centuries in this country, other ethnic people, such as Tai, Mon and Burman, migrated into these areas and brought the landlord policies. Under this landlord system, the Karen people were oppressed,abused, and forced into slavery. Under these unfair policies, Karen people were not allowed to use trees to build their houses. The first Karen settlers inhabited the plain areas but due to increased oppression and abuses against them they fled to the mountains and deep into the forest. Therefore, a jealous Burman proverb said “After the fell tree trunk decay the Karen People is feeling” [unclear] it mean the Karen people are always scared of foreign invaders who take their land. In 1826, the British set up a colonial government and established economic policies. The British were looking for high quality wood and fond the teak tree to be the best in the forest. They claimed all teak trees as British colonial government property and did not allow anyone else to cut down teak trees. In 1826, the colonial government began logging in the Tenasserim and Salween districts for their economic development. Logs were floated down the Salween river to the gulf of Mauntama, and the wood was sold to European countries and India.

By 1852, logging had expanded to Pago and Pago Roma Range. Most of te workeres were recruited from Tenasserim. The trees were floated down the Sittaung River to the delta for trading. In 1856, the British colonial government formed the forestry department for forest extracting economic such as the Germany (Dietrich Brandis) the since and technology conducting method for (Burma Selective System). So many Karen people worked in the forestry department to leaning more on the technical skill of managing logging and timber exportations. In 1870, the colonial government established forest reserve areas, teak forest plantation areas, and wildlife sanctuaries. Many restrictions were placed on using the forest and Karen people, many of whom depended on the forest for their livelihood, faced great difficulties. In 1902, ACT Law was enacted by the colonial government because of the damage that the trading of timber, wildlife, and other natural resources did to the environment. In 1948 Burma got independence from the British Colonial government. On 31 January 1949, the Karen people began their revolution for an autonomous state. On 14 June 1949 the Karen leaders had a conference and established a system of governance. Mr. Sein Htin was elected as the head of the Karen Agriculture and Forestry departments.By 1955, the major logging activities in Burma had stopped. In June of that year the first (KRC) congress was held. During the congress the Central Committee members amended certain

policies and elected Mr. Sue Maung Lwin as head of the Agriculture Department. In 1956 the second Karen National Congress was held at Mou Ko Kee and Mr. Mahn Hsa Plate was elected to head the Forestry Department and Agriculture Department. In 1966, Governor Tha Pyee became the head of Agriculture and Forestry departments. In 1972, a meeting was held on the Forest Act and Mr. Jackot translated the Act from English to Burmese. In 1974, the ninth congress of the KNU Forestry Department ratified the Forest Act. In 1980, Saw Aung San became the head of the Forestry Department. Since then logging activity has increased. The ( SLORC) government sold five year contracts to thirty-six Thai companies for forty-two forest areas. These logging contracts led to the destuction of 18,800 Km2 of forest within five years. In December 1993, due to the pressure of many countries, the (SLORC) stopped logging activities along the Thai - Burma border. From 1996 to 1998, illegal logging activities occurred in the Salween River valley and many blamed Aung San so it is one of the reasons that made Aung San to surrender to (SLORC) . After, the surrendered the major logging activities also seen to be stop in Burma side [sentence unclear]. From 2000 to 2008, Pu Ker Hser Doh was head of the Forestry Department. At the Fourteenth KNU Congress P’ Doh Eie Htoe was elected as the head of Forestry Department.

4. Current Situation

The Forestry Department and the state of forests today

The main factor affecting the Kaw Thue Lie Karen Forestry Department is the lack of staff. Because of political problems and civil war in Burma, reforestation and agro-forestry can not be practiced in many areas of Karen State. Forest management is practiced only in the districts that are under control of the KNU. Today, some of the KNU forest areas are controlled by the SPDC army. In some of these areas, KNU policy is ineffective and deforestation has occurred due to illegal activities. In areas that are under KNU control, there are still some small-scale logging activities. Reforestation work has not been done and the number of valuable trees has decreased.

(A) Forest areas
In the past, the forest covered about 58% of Karen State. Fifteen percent of Karen State was agricultural land and residential areas. From 1988 to 2008, an estimated 50% of the forest was destroyed and now only 35% of Karen State is forest.

[(B) Types of forests and kind of trees
There are six types of forest in Karen State categorized by the Karen Forestry Department: lowland evergreen forest, high land evergreen forest, mixed-deciduous forest, diterocarptus forest, dry deciduous forest, and mangrove forest. The trees in Karen State belong to one of the following three categories: teak wood, hard wood and soft wood. Today, the trading of forest trees and the decreasing in the number of valuable trees are known as 15 species such as [this sentence unclear], Common teak (Tectonic grandees), Pinked (Xylem xylocarpa), Burma padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus), Dipterocarp (Dipterocarpus costatus),———-jaw Kay, (Shorea obtuse), (Shorea siamensis) Ter Lah Aw Dipterocarpus tuberculatus thay par chie, Mahogany, Ker Mar, Der Anthocephalus chinensis, They ter wee, tay Nyin Thay Kay Derris robusta and they Ker Shor Man respectiviely. Siris tree (Albizia Lebbeck) These forest trees take a very long time to grow. They are often cut down and sold for a profit. These traders are generally unconcerned about replanting these kind of trees, so their numbers are decreasing very quickly.

(C) District wildlife sanctuaries
Not all districts have recognized wildlife sanctuaries. In registered wildlife sanctuaries under KNU control, the animals are categorized into five classes: mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Note (one missing)
Today, there are many threatened species such as, Asian Wild Elephant, tigers, leopards, tapirs, rhinoceri, bantengs, wild water buffaloes, gaurs, green peafowl, pea-cock pheasants, mollusks, turtles, tortoises, otters, gibbons, and pangolin. The populations of these animals has been decreasing rapidly. These decreases may be due to deforestation, lost habitats, poaching, and wildlife trading. Many of these animals are not able to adapt well to the changing environment and are not able to produce good offspring. There have also been no effective laws to protect the animals. As a result, biodiversity is decreasing.

(D) The Karen people livelihoods and their dependency on the forest
The Karen people are dependent on the forest and its resources. Karen people use the forest for protection, hiding, agriculture, fishing, hunting, collecting vegetables, and picking herbal medicine. The forest helps the Karen People maintain their culture, traditional way of life, and religion.

(E) Environmental Changes
Since 1988, environmental changes include:
1. Soil erosion;
2. Change of water flow or route;
3. Land slides and major erosion;
4. Change in water flow in streams and rivers; [what’s difference with number 2?]
5. Unpredictable weather and climate changes;
6. Increase in the number of rats which destroy the crops; and
7: Increase in extinctoin of animal and tree species.

5. Strategies & Tactics
- Community forest
Community forests are forests that are managed sustainably by local communities for their own benefit. Each community forest has its own management plan, adopted by the local community and approved by the Forest Department.

Reforestation is the process whereby forests subject to excessive management are rehabilitated to provide a more natural forest in the future.

- Forestation
Forestation is the process where new forests with natural attributes are created in areas that were not previously forested.

  Forest fire control
Forest fire control is the process of managing forest fires to prevent unnecessary destruction, while allowing the benefits of fire to contribute to the natural succession of the forest.

- Awareness raising
Awareness raising is the education of people so that they realize the benefits and problems of their actions. It is especially important for newcomers in an area who arrive due to conflicts in their own communities.

-Capacity Building Training
Capacity building training is the education of people so they can properly plan and manage their resources for the benefit of all.

- Demarcate reserved forests and wildlife sanctuaries
Demarcating Reserved Forests and Wildlife Sanctuaries includes (a) field surveys for plant and animal species and (b) making maps showing the boundaries of Reserved Forests and Wildlife Sanctuaries, and recording these results in official documents. Reserved Forests are those areas where resource extraction is limited to specific times or places. Wildlife Sanctuaries are those areas where hunting and fishing are prohibited and other extraction is regulated.

- Establish protected areas in unreserved forests such as watersheds, wetlands, springs and other ecologically rich areas
Areas outside of Reserved Forests will have protected areas established, such as watersheds, wetlands, springs, and other ecologically important areas.

- Forest and Biodiversity research
The Forest Department will establish a program of research in the forests and waterways that studies the extent and benefits of biodiversity.

- Increase manpower
The Forest Department will study the personnel level necessary to implement this policy, and ensure that this level is achieved and maintained.

- Devolution
The Forest Department will study what forest areas and subjects of management are appropriate for devolution to local communities, and provide for such devolution depending on each community’s capacity.

- Forest extraction agency
The Forest Department shall create within itself an agency responsible for creating and adopting regulations pertaining to forest extraction, and for managing forest extraction in a sustainable manner.

- The Forest Department shall create a strategic plan in order to implement this forest policy.
Actions allowed / not allowed

- Areas protected by local or indigenous people are not allowed to be used for forest extraction such as——- watersheds, riparian zones within 100 meters from water, religious areas, spiritual sites,——dead spiritual kingdom, and birth cord hanging areas.

- Clear cuts
Clear cutting for logging or charcoal-making is forbidden.

- Destruction of threatened plants species is forbidden.

- Teak tree growth reserve forest areas may be logged for extraction only if more than 25 years has passed since the last extraction.
- All stakeholders are permitted to grow any tree species but government-protected tree species may only be sold to the government.
- Local villagers are permitted to extract timbers from their community forest areas or outside community forest areas for local building but must obtain a license from the government.
- Stakeholders are not permitted to conduct agricultural practices or construct roads, shelters, or any other kinds of buildings, including religious places in the government reserve forest areas or wildlife sanctuaries.
- Before large-scale projects are undertaken in any areas, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EPA) shall be conducted.
- All wildlife and wildlife product trade is prohibited.
- Introducing new species to or removing native species from the country is forbidden.
- Rare or prohibited plant species shall not be sold or traded.
- Collecting vegetables, fishing and hunting in the unprotected areas are allowed, but the use of unsustainable methods such as electrocution, poisoning and bombing are strictly prohibited. (regulate net weave size depending on what fish are being caught and method?) (also time, place, and species appropriate regulation of hunting methods)
- Local people are permitted to formalize their own community forests that were inherited from their ancestors but shall abide the government’s community forest policy.
Local taboos and social norms on hunting and forest extraction will be respected by the Forest Department.
- No person shall set fire or allow fire in any kind of forests.
- No person shall use government reserve forests, wildlife sanctuaries or communityprohibited orests for animal raising or grazing lands.
- The government shall establish forest reserve areas which contain good forests but must include the local people in the process.
- Local people have the right to own land in their community forest areas according to their traditional practices. The government shall recognize land ownership and grant exclusive title to the owner and prevent intrusion by outsiders.
- The government shall be responsible for relocating trespassing inhabitants to other suitable areas outside the forest.
- Forest or environmental resource extraction shall be conducted with the participation of local people and community leaders.
1 - If there is no wrong with the forest policy, no organization, or departments or any groups or individual shall have right to take over power from the forestry department.
- Women Role
Participation of women in forest management is especially important given their different knowledge and priorities in forests.
7. Laws Needed
- The KNU Central Committee Congress delegates power to the forestry department to conduct forest management according to the forest policy guidelines.
- Founding forest Act, forest rules and regulations.
- Founding forest extraction instructions and manual.
- Reforming the forestry department structure, functions and personnel (including women forest rangers).
- Wildlife preservation rules and regulations shall be established, including list of protected species.
- Establishing the acceptable community forest practices manual in collaboration with the local people.
- Establishing a forest extraction agency within the forest department to act according to the forest extraction guidelines.
8. Responsibility
- To establish a committee, composed of local representatives, legal experts, NGO representatives, and Forestry Department officials, to write forest policies, including the official manual and instructions to the public.
- The Karen Forestry Department shall be responsible for encouraging, leading, and assisting local communities to establish community forests where appropriate.
- The Karen Forestry Department shall recognize locally established community forests and collaborate with them to establish policies and rules.
- The Karen Forestry Department shall be responsible for raising awareness about basic forest knowledge and building capacity for conservation management among forest inhabitants.
- The Karen Forestry Department shall be responsible for building capacity among its staff.
- The Karen Forestry Department shall be responsible for ensuring that all forest logging activities conform to rules and regulations.
- The Logging Advisory Committee of the Karen Forestry Department will assist in logging and extraction according to forest rules and regulations.
- The Karen Forestry Department shall establish a forestry training school for its staff.
- Local communities shall be responsible for forming local forest committees to establish forest rules and regulations and a community forest management manual, which will allow them to apply for community forest approval through the Karen Forestry Department.
- Each local committee of a community forest recognized by the Karen Forestry Department must follow the rules and regulations set by the local committee in its community forest management manual.
- NGOs shall have the right to collaborate with the Karen Forestry Department and local communities to achieve forest policy goals.
- The Karen Forestry Department at all levels shall establish project schedules to achieve forest policy goals in a timely manner.
9. ways of supporting/funding the policy and refunding the affect cost?
- All forest extraction projects approved by the Karen Forestry Department shall be taxed at a rate of (20-40)% of gross revenue to be used exclusively by the Karen Forestry Department to achieve forest policy goals.
(o set appropriate tax rate, must determine
1. How much extraction money is now being earned?
2. How much money does the Forest Department need?
3. What rate of taxation on 1. will achieve the amount in 2.?
Example: if There is $1,000,000 in logging, and the Department needs $200,000, then the tax rate should be 200,000/1,000,000 = 20% tax rate)
- Any road construction and maintenance projects approved by the Karen Forestry
Department shall be taxed at a rate of (20-40)% of gross revenue to be used exclusively by the Karen Forestry Department to achieve forest policy goals.
- All natural and mineral resource extraction projects approved by the Karen Forestry
Department shall be taxed at a rate of (20-40)% of gross revenue to be used exclusively by the Karen Forestry Department to achieve forest policy goals.

10. Who will benefit from this policy or who will be harmed?
How can these interests be balanced?
This policy will benefit the Karen people by ensuring that their forests are protected forever.
It will put a burden on logging companies (mostly Thai?). However it must be remembered that logging in Karen forests is a privilege, not a right, and the logging companies are also gaining a benefit.
11. How to address problems arising from this policy.
- At least every one to two years, the Karen Forestry Department will review its policies in terms of their efficacy in achieving forest policy goals.
- Every four to five years the Karen Forestry Department shall employ an external auditor to evaluate the efficacy of this policy and the transparency and proper management of the Karen Forestry Department. The external auditor shall provide written recommendations for improvement. The Karen Forestry Department shall consider these recommendations
for improvement and implement any recommendations appropriate for furthering forest
policy goals.
12. If forest policy goals are achieved, what further steps
should be taken?
If all forest policy goals are fulfilled, then the Kaw Htoo Lie Forestry Department shall establish a new policy with appropriate goals to pursue local food security and forest
development from a long-term perspective.
13. Conclusion
The KNU forest policy and it work plans is focusing on the development and improve it forest environments and it resources. It is also to help the local people to improve their livelihood security, food security by using the forest resource in a sustainable way. This forest policy will guide and help the forestry, officers, staffs, forest leaders, to solve forest problems that aroused within it territories and leading them to a good forest management. Moreover, this forest policy will show the KNU ruling systems related to the forest management is going into a right direction
which will result in a good governance and most up to date policy that fit to the current situation
locally and internationally.
1 The KNU forest policy and it work plans is belied to have impact on the sustainable use of forest for the forestry department and making it more effective in managing the forest from all levels.
Moreover, this KNU forest policy is the first ever policy that made by ethnics group in Burma,
and it may be a good example for the other groups.
The policy ratification and the member of participants in the congress who reached the agreement
to adopt this policy as KNU new policy.
On April 27 - 28, 2009 KNU forestry department organized meeting for reviewing, discussing
and checking on the forest policy and it work plans carefully and finally they had agreed to make
a decision to accepted this policy as the KNU forest policy.
The participant were as followed
1. Saw Ah Htoe - The head of the KNU Frorestry Department
2. Saw Mahn Ba Htun - Head of Pa-an district forestry department.
3. Saw Thay Waw Do - Head of Duplaya District forest department.
4. Saw thin min - Head of Du Tha Hton District forest department.
5. Saw Kie Mahn - Head of Kler Lwe Htu forest department.
6. Saw Eh Kaw Thaw - Head of Kaw ta ree township, Duplaya forest department.
7. Saw Chit Latt - The secandary of forestry department at Du Playa District
8. Saw Sunday Htoo - Head of KNU, Department of Health and Walfare, Do yaw Kaw
Ka Ree Township Pa-an district.
9. Saw Mahn Len Do - Head of Kru Htu Township forestry department, Du Playa
1 Content page
Number Information Page
Forward: 2
1. Reason: Why is forest policy necessary? 3
2. Goals: What will the policy achieve?) 6
3. History - what has happened before? why do we need to change policy. 9
4. Current Situation - what information do we have about the issue? 12
The forest department and the forest situation in the present day.
5. Strategies & Tactics 14
6. Actions allowed / not allowed 18
7. Laws Needed 22
8. Responsibility 24
9. ways of supporting/funding the policy and refunding the affect cost? 26
10. Who will benefit from this policy or who will be harmed? How can these
interests be balanced? 28
11. How to address problems arising from this policy. 29
12. If forest policy goals are achieved, what further steps should be taken? 30
13. Conclusion 31
14 . References 32

Karen National Union