Stronger forest and farm producers’ groups can help deepen Myanmar democracy
Cautious optimism’ characterises many recent developments in Myanmar. In forestry, economic returns have, until recently, accrued to the government. Yet the 1995 Community Forestry Instructions, and ongoing revision of the 1992 forest law, are opening new commercial space for locally controlled forest and farm products. Community Forest User Groups are emerging to manage these resources, albeit at a pace below the government’s Forest Master Plan target of 918,000 hectares by 2030. They are mobilising to sell timber, agroforestry crops, non-timber forest products (notably bamboo and rattan), eco-tourism and biomass energy. The Forest and Farm Facility is strengthening, through small grants, their business organisation and capacity. It is also initiating high-level multi-sectoral dialogue to showcase and discuss how stronger locally controlled forest and farm economies can deepen democracy.