Chairman of State Administration Council Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing delivers address at World Environment Day 2021


World Environment Day 2021 was observed at Myanmar International Convention Centre 2 (MICC-2) here this morning, with an address delivered by Chairman of the State Administration Council Commanderin- Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Also present were SAC members Admiral Tin Aung San, Lt-Gen Moe Myint Tun, Lt-Gen Soe Htut,Mahn Nyein Maung, Daw Aye Nu Sein, U Moung Har, Saw Daniel, Dr Banya Aung Moe, U Shwe Kyein, Joint Secretary Lt-Gen Ye Win Oo, Union ministers U Win Shein, U Aung Naing Oo, U Tin Htut Oo, U Khin Maung Yi, U Aung Than Oo, U Shwe Lay, Dr Thet Thet Khaing, Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman Dr Maung Maung Naing, deputy ministers, members of Nay Pyi Taw Council, permanent secretaries, directors general and managing directors of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and related ministries, rectors, offi cials, teachers, students of basic high schools in Nay Pyi Taw and prize winners. In his keynote address, the Senior General said the theme for World Environment Day 2021 is “Ecosystem Restoration” which emphasizes the work of ensuring greater correlation between man and nature.

As regards, the global environment conservation, the Senior General said the sustainable development of natural environment is the base for human survival and existence. The world environment is facing indiscriminate clearing and felling of trees, extension of urban development plans on wildlife habitats, extreme agricultural extension, over fi shing, forest fi res and excessive carbon emission caused by industrial development and burning of fossil fuels for energy generation. Hence, there are clear signs that ecosystem is facing deterioration every day. In dealing with the ecosystem of Myanmar, he said the Evaluation of FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000) shows the annual decrease in the forested areas. Forest depletion is followed by the destruction of ecosystem which includes the pollution of watercourses and lakes, drying up of freshwater sources, deterioration of coastal areas and oceans, climate change, soil erosion in upland areas and loss of biodiversity. So, the survival of human race is facing a major threat.

According to UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration for 2021- 2030 issued in 2020 aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems, to prevent a mass extinction and to ensure food security, water supply and strong vocational works. For this year’s World Environment Day, the theme “Ecosystem Restoration” has been announced. 2020 was a year experiencing many disasters including the COVID- 19 global pandemic. With the continue outbreak of the pandemic this year, all must place emphasis on ecosystem restoration as a priority to solve the problems of depleting natural resources, environmental pollution and climate change. Regarding Myanmar’s environmental conservation efforts, the Senior General said section 45 of Chapter 1: the basic principles of the Union in the Constitution (2008) of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar states that the Union shall protect and conserve natural environment.

In section 390 of Chapter 8: Citizen, Fundamental Rights and Duties of the Citizens also, the provision that every citizen has the duty to assist the Union is related to environmental conservation. This means that not only every citizen of Myanmar but also the entire country needs to take part in environmental conservation measures.

Myanmar is rich in diverse ecosystem, biodiversity and natural resources from northern glacial areas to southern coastal areas. So, it is crucial for long-term existence of sound ecosystem and natural environment for the development of national economy and socioeconomy of the people.

Myanmar aims to establish natural forest reserves and buffer zonesareas spanning 30 percent of the country’s area by 2030 for ecosystem protection. Now, 25.61 percent of the country area has been protected with those establishments. Of the 10 percent of the country’s area set for establishing natural habitats for biodiversity, 6.08 percent has been completed. Myanmar has 48.52 million acres of arable land and 17.3 million acres are for paddy plantations.

Myanmar has enough agricultural land for the current population and produces rice more than sufficient for the country with the rice selfsufficiency rate of 127 percent. Among other crops, the country can also produce major crops more than enough for itself. Therefore, it is necessary to accelerate the application of modern techniques to acreage crop yields. As the country has enough agricultural land, it is important to systematically conserve forests without clearing them. Relevant ministries are implementing measures to replace shifting farming of the traditional customs of national race with highland permanent farming systematically.

Myanmar has the seventh largest mangrove area in the world and the third largest mangrove area in Asia. According to a report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2020, the mangrove area of Myanmar was about 3.9 percent (1,107,745 acres) of the forested area of the country, contributing to social affairs, economy and environmental conservation of the country. As Myanmar has been rehabilitating mangrove forests through various ways and means, the country has tended 26,990 acres of mangrove forest plantations, 15,436 acres of community forest plantations, 3,065 acres of private forest plantations, 8,130 acres of assisted natural regeneration plantations and 10,348 acres of mangrove forest plantations under cooperation with domestic and foreign organizations so far.

As felling trees for firewood is one of the major causes for the loss of natural forests, biodiversity and energy resources, the forestry sector is systematically fulfilling the daily consumption of firewood energy of the country. The use of firewood and charcoal makes up 76.41 percent of the total energy consumption of the country, which needs 16.53 million cubic tons of firewood annually.

According to the estimation of the major national forestry sector project, a rural household uses 2.5 cubic tons of firewood a year while an urban household needs 1.4 tons of firewood annually. The 10-year project for restoration and rehabilitation of forest in Myanmar, which started in 2017-2018 fiscal year, aims to establish 104,563 acres of rural firewood plantations and 21,436 acres of firewood plantations have been established so far. State and region administration councils and relevant ministries are required to coordinate for establishment of a firewood plantation of at least two acres in each village every year.

As it takes a certain time to supply electricity to rural areas, firewood and charcoal will have to be used for energy. Region and state administrative councils are required to supervise the establishment of community firewood plantations as a national duty instead of extracting firewood and charcoal from natural forests. Myanmar has more than 4.4 million acres of 102 species of natural bamboo and 18 of them are economically significant. Myanmar produces 120 to 180 million stalks of bamboo every year. Bamboo is widely used in foodstuffs, construction of houses, making furniture as well as in clothing made of bamboo fibre, which is suitable for health and popular in the market. Bamboo is mainly extracted from natural forests and rarely replanted. As bamboo is a major forest product, it is necessary to systematically conserve and commercially extract bamboo and establish extensive bamboo plantations.

Trees, forests and good ecosystem are also storage tanks that could absorb carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere. Creating small forests along the area each side of mortar roads could reduce air pollution caused by carbon dioxide emitted from cars and plays a vital role for reducing the effects of climate change. It, as a nation duty, is to conserve valuable natural resources and trees and forests that are helpful to Myanmar's sustainable development.

At the time that the State Administration Council is taking all the responsibilities of the State, regarding environmental conservation, it will take measures of maintaining the nation's reserve resources through reducing extraction and use of underground and aboveground natural resources, ensuring rebalance of climate changes, greening state-owned forests, establishing village-owned firewood plantations, and re-conserving mangrove forests in coastal regions as a national duty. Domestic and external organizations are invited to cooperate and collaborate in taking these measures. It is needed not only to conserve reserved forests, protected public forests and forest lands but to give special consideration to importance of trees outside forest (ToF) and ecosystem.

We, Myanmar people, love trees and forests and have had sense of consciousness on conservation of forest since a long time ago. According to the instances of world's climate changes, it is to successfully carry out tasks for restoring ecosystem for all the human beings to ensure reduction and relief from experiencing natural disasters. Giving attention to the mottos indicating benefits of trees and forests " Deforestation kills the soil", " Climate depends on forests", " Conservation of forests: solution to stop global warming", and "Nation is peaceful and pleasant only if forests are conserved and green", all are to be involved in conservation and restoration tasks for sustainable development of forests and ecosystem as a national duty.

Then, video messages sent by the UN Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UNEP were shown. Afterwards, the Senior General presented prizes to officials of cities that has achieved environmentally sustainable development. First prize went to Nyaung-U Development Committee, second prize to Waingmaw Development Committee, and third prize to Loikkaw Development Committee. Later, an education video to mark World Environment Day 2021 was shown, and the dignitaries attended the event had a group photo taken. Afterwards, the Senior General and attendees took a tour around exhibits on display to mark the day.