Massive deforestation in Kachin State threatens farmers' livelihood

Extensive deforestation in Kachin State in northern Burma is gradually increasing even as it threatens to have an adverse impact on the farmers of the area as well as negative environmental implications.

The farmers in Nawnghkying village along the bank of the Mali Hka (Irrawaddy River) in Waingmaw Township, opposite Myitkyina, have asked for permission for logging in the forests of Ugang Bum (Ugang Mountain) in Waingmaw.

Timber"What happens currently is that due to logging at the Ugang Bum, the streams have nearly dried up and it is having an adverse impact on the farmers," a farmer from Nawnghkying said.

There are several hard and soft wood trees in the forests of Ugang Bum and many small streams flow down from the mountains. Farmers from Nawnghkying village require water from these streams of Ugang Bum to grow rice.

"We (the villagers) from Nawhkying village have grown 2,000 acres of rice by using water from the streams of Ugang Bum. If the streams dry up, we cannot grow rice in our paddy-fields," a farmer said.

Nawnghkying village has over 400 families and over 3,000 people. The village has come under the development and management of a Kachin peace group, the Lasang Awng Wa Peace Group (LAWPG) as of 2004, after being authorized by Burma's ruling junta, through Commander Maj-Gen Ohn Myint of Kachin State.

According to a villager, in the past, LAWPG has done logging in a forest near a village despite requests by the locals to stop felling of trees. Currently, the three Burmese military authorities; Yawjawng Hkawng Lum, Lum Hkawng and Jumhpawk Lum HKawng in Nawnghkying village, have given permission to the Chinese businesswoman, Ali Chye to cut trees in the forests of Ugang Bum.

Initially, they had an agreement with Mrs. Ali Chye to build a school in the village. However, they just received only 2,000,000 kyats (est. US $ 1,778) to build the school and Ali Chye has been felling trees at the Ugang Bum forest, a villager added.

Meanwhile, despite repeated requests by the locals, no action has been taken by both the Burmese military government and the LAWPG. +Watch logging videos.