The contribution of community forest to Yoe Sone Community Forestry, Wan Twin Township, Mandalay Region, Myanmar

Yoe Sone Community Forestry, located at Dry Zone Region of the Myanmar, had become a successful model of the country because of its improved livelihood and sustainable forest management. In the past, Yoe Sone forest is degraded forest and people are landless and daily-wage laborers. At first, most of the local people were not interested in community forest as they believed that this is a long term investment process and can harmful to their livelihoods. However, the current chairman of the Yoe Sone Community Forestry started a good initiative of agroforestry system on his allotted CF land from Forest Department by growing together with Shaw byu trees (Sterculia versicolor) and  agricultural crops. After 7 years, the resin produced from Sterculia trees could sell to China since there is a market condition and good prices for resin products, subsequently, the daily income of his household increased significantly. Due to his good leadership, others members of the Community Forest have also followed similar agroforestry systems in their CF areas. In this way, their annual income eventually have been increased and Energy Globe National Award for 2018 was awarded to Yoe Sone Community Forest for improved livelihood and sustainable natural resources management through community forestry. From the story of Yoe Sone Community Forestry, it is learned that uplifting the livelihoods of the local community by accessing a secure CF product market is the way towards the development of community forestry.

Looking back through the Myanmar historical forestry background, different forest management systems had been applied along the periods of Pre-colonial, Colonial, and Independent up to the present [1]During Pre-colonial period (prior to 1885), although the British Government announced the teak forest as state property, community was allowed to partly involve in forest management by letting to grow the agricultural crops together with young teaks at interval spaces for basic needs of forest dependent people. That method was invented by U Pan Hee,the Karen ethnic farmer [2]This became the first step of community-decentralized forest management system and also the initial agroforestry system or taung-ya system.[1]Since 1885-1947 (Colonial Period), all Burmese forests (at that time, Myanmar was referred as “Burmese”) were declared as state property and local community could not have the right to access the forest resources.[1]The German Botanist, Dr. Dietrich Brandis first introduced the Burmese Selection System with 30-year rotation period.[1]From Independence up to the present (1948 to current), Forest Department implemented Forest Law since 1992. This Forest Law decentralizes and encourages the private sector and community participation in forest management to some degree though Myanmar forests are State-owned forests[1] At current time, three participatory afforestation programs are implemented by Forest Department in collaboration with local people. They are (1) Departmental village supply plantation, (2) Community forest plantation, and (3) Household development plantation[1]Currently, at the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Forest Department (FD), Dry Zone Greening Department (DZGD), Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) are under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC), which officially manage and administrate the forests. Forest Department (FD) defined that “Community Forestry (CF) means all sustainable forest management and utilization activities, in which the local community itself is involved”. This expression includes "establishing new plantations and managing existing forests, to create employment and income opportunities from subsistence to commercial purpose, to generate food, to stabilize ecosystem and to improve the environmental conditions."[3]About 45.04% of the country’s total land area is still covered with natural forests[4] The forest management type in Myanmar is State owned national forests or Permanent Forest Estate (P.F.E) with the sub categories of Reserved Forest (RF), Protected Public Forest (P.P.F) and Protected Area System (P.A.S). Reserved Forest (RF) and Protected Public Forest (P.P.F) are established for the purpose of sustainable forest management and Protected Area System (P.A.S) is for biodiversity conservation. Their targets are to establish 30% of the total land area as Reserved Forest (RF) and Protected Public Forest (P.P.F) and 10% as Protected Area System (P.A.S) [2]These 45.04% of natural forests also fulfill the basic needs of over 70% of rural community in addition to serve the national economy [5]The authorities at Forest Department have recognized the role of community in sustainable forest management. Therefore, they initialized the establishment of Community Forests (CF) since 1995 and also issued the Community Forestry Instructions (CFI) at the same year. Since starting the community forestry in Myanmar, different community forestry programs have been observed; community forestry implemented by Forest Department, community forestry implemented by both Forest Department and outside donors (International/Local Non-Governmental Organizations) [6]Myanmar local communities currently adopt two types of Community Forest; agroforestry (AF) and enrichment planting in Natural Forest (NF)[7]Some of the Community Forestry objectives set up by the Forest Department are “to provide forest and trees related basic needs such as wood and non-wood forest products for local communities” and “to enhance environmental services that can support climate change mitigation and adaption through preventing deforestation and forest degradation”[3]Forest income contributes to about 50% to 55% of the total household income.[8]Community forests can establish the following areas: (1) reserved forest with the permission of Government, (2) private land, (3) degraded natural forests, (4) environmental conservation area suitable for community forests, (5) forests which are higher local demand for forest products, (6) forest lands traditionally and customarily managed by the local community. The CF land lease period is 30 years.[3][9]

Yoe Sone Community Forest (CF) is situated in Taungyigone Reserve Forest Compartment, Wundwin Township, Meiktila District, Mandalay region. Mandalay region is situated at Dry Zone Region in Myanmar [7]Forest user group members are the training output of Community Forestry Training and Extension (COMFORT) Project from 1995-2001 jointly organized by Dry Zone Greening Department (DZGD) assisted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) technically. Forest user group members themselves established Community Forestry. [7]Yoe Sone Community Forestry (CF) was initiated as the practice of agroforestry type in 2004 and it was certified as a community forest in 2005. The total number of Forest User Groups (FUGs) households is 84 from nearest 3 villages Yoe Sone, Thabyaythar and Baho Seikuin and the total area is 222 acres of which 192 acres are agroforestry areas (Forest and Farm Facility, 2017) As the meaning of Dry Zone, this region has very harsh climatic conditions receiving small amount of precipitation and extremely high temperature[7]Local people living there usually spend nearly half of day time at the forests for their daily use such as fetching fuel wood, fodder and water[5]According to unfavorable climatic conditions and highly dependent on forest resources, Forest Department (FD) has been emphasizing on forest restoration and rehabilitation activities on that area through social and natural approaches of forest managing including establishment of community forestry (CF). ). Yoe Sone Community Forestry is established on a degraded natural forest. The main tree species planted in agroforestry system within Yoe Sone Community Forest is Sterculia versicolor (local name; Shaw Phyu) mixed with agricultural crops of sesame, bean, cotton and groundnut.[7]Therefore, the CF products are agricultural crops and resin from Shaw Phyu (Sterculia versicolor) tree. Shaw Phyu (Sterculia versicolor) tree is a native and traditional resin tapping tree in that area. Shaw byu tree can be tapped for resin extraction for commercial purposes at 5 years old according to its natural habitat.[5]Community Forest Users can get income by selling their resin products to China. Eventually, resin from shaw byu tree had become the income source according to the short term income generating capacity. With effective participation of user group members, the reputation of Yoe Sone Community Forest eventually covers with higher revenue and greening vegetation on degraded dry forest. It becomes the successful model of Community based non-wood forest products enterprise. In 2017, it got NATIONAL ENERGY GLOBE AWARD Myanmar.[5]

[7] Community Forestry Name - Yoe Sone Community Forest
[7] Number of Forest User Households 84
[7] Forest Type - Degraded dry forest
[7] Community Forest Type - Agroforestry type by intercropping system with agricultural crops and Shaw byu trees
[7] Community Forest Products - Resin, fuel wood, fodder
[7] Way of implementing - Community oriented approach
[7] Year of establishment - 2004
[7] Supporting organization - Forest Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency (Community Forestry Training and Extension Project)

Yoe Sone Community Forestry has a Management Committee (MC) including a chairman, a secretary, a treasurer and two members elected from among Forest User Groups (FUGs) members.[3]Forest Department gives 30 years of land lease to all kinds of community forest; however, members can extend the land lease period depending on the progress and desire of the Forest User Group prior to six months termination.[3]The chairman of the MC has the responsibility to apply the Community Forestry Certificate on behalf of the group.[3]FUGs must prepare and submit Management Plan (MP)[3]with guidance of the Forest Department (FD) and technical support of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Members initiated their CF by participatory approach, that is, they cleared the land by themselves, planting seedlings especially Shaw byu trees in CF site[7]The members get the commercial benefits of resin tapping from Yoe Sone CF and before resin harvesting time, they practice agricultural livelihood.[7] With the aim of Yoe Sone CF sustainability, the management committee set up internal financial rules among FUGs members. They are-

(1)   Each member has to pay 10,000 Myanmar Kyats as a registration fee.[5]

(2)   In addition, each member shall pay 2,000 Myanmar Kyats to cooperative saving and borrowing fund.[5]

(3)   These fund shall be contribute to any social welfare occurred at Yoe Sone village.[5]

In addition, regular meetings are held twice a month and progress report is submitted regularly.[7]Yoe Sone CF members have the right to participate in management plan formulation and the equity in benefit sharing.[7]About 223 hectares are conserved for 84 Yoe Sone CF members and about 2 hectares of CF land are allotted to each member[5]Shaw Phyu (Sterculia versicolor Wall.) is a kind of tree with a spreading canopy growing up to 5 meters tall. Its resin is used in making juice, dessert and as industrial raw material for making glue in rear-view mirror and glass of the cars.[5]The marketing system is that Market = local CF member      ᗒ    traders   ᗒ     Chinese or Thailand export (i.e local CF members sell their resin to the traders and then, traders sell to Chinese or Thailand export company)[5] The local villagers sell their resin by making in noodle-shaped form as it is good priced product and also more preferable by customers. [5]Their selling system is weighing system.[5] Winter is the good season for resin production and its yield capacity gradually declines in summer.[5] Within one year, there are about 150 days to get resin. By calculating benefit-cost ratio, members benefit get the 5 times of income benefit than cost[5]. As long as the Shaw byu trees are main vital of Yoe Sone CF, they set up the rules and penalties in planting and marketing. They are:

(1)  If one seedling/ plant is destroyed, 5,000 Myanmar Kyats is fined to the violator.[5]

(2)  If someone stoles about 0.2 kg of gums, 100,000 Myanmar Kyats is fined as punishment.[5]

The chairman handles the conflicts, and problems.[5]

Forest User Groups(FUGs)

Since receiving the community forestry certificate and 30 years renewable user rights from Forest Department, Yoe Sone Community Forest Users themselves are the major implementing stakeholders and main responsibility for sustainability development of their community forest. Before becoming Yoe Sone Community Forest, most of the local community at there was landless and poor and working as casual laborers.[7] At first, local community was not so interested in growing forest trees as they are long-term invested trees and the land at there is also degraded land[7]. Yoe Sone Community Forest is the characteristics of self-initiative and participatory approach.[7] During that time, U Own Nyunt (now as a chairman of the Yoe Sone Community Forest’s Management Committee) initiated the agroforestry system, growing Sterculia trees and agricultural crops, such as bean, peas and sesame within 5 acres of Community Forest area.[9] After 7 years, the resin produced from Sterculia trees could sell to China, subsequently, the daily income of his household increased significantly. Due to his success, others members of the Community Forest have also followed similar agroforestry systems in their CF areas. In this way, their annual income eventually have been increased and Energy Globe National Award for 2018 was awarded to Yoe Sone Community Forest for improved livelihood and sustainable natural resources management through community forestry.[9] By overviewing this, Forest User Groups (FUGs) are empowered to mange community forest. They have fully rights of access to their community forest.

Forest Department

The mission of Forest Department is to harmonize the protection and production forest functions leading to sustainability. However, deforestation and forest degradation is one of major problems that limit the development of the country. About 70.04% of country’s population is rural people who mainly depend on forests for their livelihood and overexploitation, illegal logging, fuel wood collection, expansion of agricultural lands and population pressure, and conversion of forest lands to other land uses had been found as the major drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.[10] To overcome these problems, government has been emphasizing on forest restoration and rehabilitation activities through social and natural approaches of forest managing including establishment of community forestry (CF) throughout the country.[11] Therefore, Forest Department is also the second implementing stakeholders in CF management. Practically, community forestry is that Forest Department manages the forests together with the local people living around the forest because socio-economic development of the local people is one of the unavoidable conditions for Forest Department and also for the country. Therefore, within a certain period of time, Forest Department gives some types of rights to local community with the aim of livelihood development. Concerning Community Forest Management, Forest Department conducts and provides the following activities[3];

(1)  Checking the ground-truth condition to establish community forest

(2)  Allotting the community forest land in proportion to reserved forest area and number of FUG(s)

(3)  Helping local community to get community forestry certificate

(4)  Providing the guidelines in drawing the management plan by FUG

(5)  Conducting training and awareness raising activities on rights & responsibilities of FUG(s)

(6)  Providing seedlings to the community

(7)  Inspecting the CF progress based on the report from FUG(s) side and ground-truth checking

(8)  Helping the renewal of Community Forest land lease period

(9)  Doing the research based on community forestry development and distribute the results to all of the respective stakeholders

The Regional Association of Sterculia versicolor Gum Production   

This association negotiates the prices of Sterculia products between the sellers and buyers for the better Sterculia maket condition.

International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO)   

In Yoe Sone case study, actor of INGOs is the Japan International Cooperat[7]ion Agency (JICA). This organization gave technical training programs based on the concepts about the participatory approach, gender consideration, extension methods, social forestry and community forestry. These training programs lasted from 1990 to 2001 according to the Community Forestry Training and Extension (COMFORT) with the collaboration of Dry Zone Greening Department (DZGD).[7] The overall aims of this project were[7];

(1)  To motivate local communities with their self-awareness by letting know the benefits from the Community Forests

(2)  To contribute in participatory dry zone forest management by Forest Department according to Community Forestry Instructions (CFIs)

As a consequence, this Community Forestry Training and Extension (COMFORT) project motivated local farmers to become Forest User Group(s) and this FUGs established Yoe Sone Community Forestry.

Two main responsible stakeholders within Community Forestry Process are Forest Department (FD) and Forest User Groups (FUGs). Although FUGs is the direct responsibility group for Community Forest, Forest Department has also the responsibilities on this because there has the national aims and targets on these community forestlands. It should be social capital (trust building) between Forest Department and Forest User Groups. The communities trust the Forest Department’s effort and also, Forest Department should recognize the role of communities in forest management. Forest Department can build local community’s trust by assisting in resolving conflicts concerning Community Forestry, negotiating and coordinating with other concerned departments and organizations in case for compensation due to implementation of other projects in Community Forestry area, and in addition, the officers and staffs from Forest Department update the local community’s knowledge about departmental instructions which may have impact on the local’s community forest development .The last activity that Forest Department conduct is very important for community because most of the local community suffers from the poor understanding about departmental instructions.[12] Sometimes local people lose their community forest in case they are not familiar with departmental instructions and Free, Prior, Informed, and Consent Guidelines (FPIC) in case of Private Development Activities on the forestland.[13] According to all of these situations, there should be the interaction between local community and forest department because local community cannot uplift their socio-economic development without the assistance from Forest Department and also Forest Department cannot fulfill the mission without the role of local community.

The following is the SWOT assessment of two major stakeholders in implementing the community forestry

FUGs FD
Strength Getting 30 years land lease period and extendable Forestlands are officially and legally managed by FD
Weakness Getting updated official information Weak financial support to CF
Opportunities Having the rights of access, management, and claim to development activities on CF area Updating CFI in reflecting the real local communities requirements
Threat Market Fluctuation Compete with other development activities set up by other departments such as, Mining Department, Agricultural Department

By studying the Yoe Sone Community Forestry, in the past, Yoe Sone Community members were poor, landless people and daily-wage laborers and in addition, the forests at there were dry, degraded forests.[7] However, after adopting the right system with effective community-based participation, this community forest was accepted as the successful community forestry model in Myanmar and appreciated with NATIONAL ENERGY GLOBE AWARD.[9] Analyzing why this CF is successful, the fundamental concept is accessing the certain CF products market condition. Assuming that there are well managed CF, good support from Forest Department and sustainable production and utilization, however, if there is no markets for these products, it could be difficult to become a sustainable community forestry. Well-building of market focus for its main forest product and better contact between small forest enterprises and buyers are some of the fundamental concepts to be community-based product enterprise.[14] Yoe Sone Community Forestry possesses such fundamental facts. Well selecting the species suitable to the biophysical feature is another reason to be successful. Strengthening the formation of enterprise groups/associations is also important for market development.[14] However, the main limitation of this study is that not getting enough information about the Regional Association of Sterculia versicolor Gum Production. Recognizing the story of Yoe Sone Community Forestry; the followings features are recommended to be a good CF model;

(a)  Well initiation

(b)  Effective community participation

(c)  Good leadership and well management of FUGs

(d)  Access CF product market

(f) Establishing social capital (trust) between Forest Department and local community    

  1. 1.01.11.21.31.41.5 Hlaing, K.Y.M. (2016). Assessment of Participatory Afforestation Programs for Rural Livelihood improvement and forest conservation; Case Study in Dry Zone Myanmar. Department of Global Agricultural Sciences, The University of Tokyo. pp. 10-16 Master Thesis.
  2. 2.02.1 Forest Department. (2001).National Forest Management Plan (2001-2002 to 2030-2031). Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation pp. 20-25
  3. 3.03.13.23.33.43.53.63.7 Forest Department. Community Forestry Instruction (2016). Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Myanmar.  pp 1-12    
  4. FAO (2014). Forest Resource Assessment 2015-Country Report, Myanmar. pp. 4 Retrived from: http://www.fao.org/3/a-az283e.pdf
  5. 5.005.015.025.035.045.055.065.075.085.095.105.115.125.135.145.155.16 Gurng, T.R., ed. (2017). Community-based Non-Wood Forest Products Enterprise: A Sustainable Business Model. Dhaka: SAARC Agriculture Center. pp 162-181.  Retrived from: http://www.sac.org.bd/archives/publications/Non Wood%20Forest%20Products.pdf
  6. Hlaing, E. E. S.(2010). Factors Decentralized Policy for Sustainable Governance in Myanmar: Lessons from the Philippines. Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo pp 1-125 Doctoral Dissertation    
  7. 7.007.017.027.037.047.057.067.077.087.097.107.117.127.137.147.157.167.177.187.197.207.217.227.23 Thu, P. (2014). Master Thesis. Impact of Community Forestry on Local Livelihood: A Case Study in Dry Zone, Myanmar. Department of Forest Science, The Seoul National University. pp. 25-57
  8. Aung P. S., Adam Y. O., Pretzscb J., and Peters R. (2015). “Distribution of Forest Income among Rural Households: A Case Study from Natma Taung Natiional Park, Myanmar.” Forests, Trees and Livelihoods 24 (3): 190-2011. doi:10.1080/14728028.2014.976597    
  9. 9.09.19.29.3 Forest and Farm Producer Organizations (2017) From Users to Producers:Scaling up FFPOs businesses to implement Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in climate resilient landscapes
  10. Kissinger G., San P. P., Arnold F.,Mon S. M., and Min E. E. N. (2017) Background report for identifying the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Myanmar. UN-REDD Programme
  11. Tun W. W.,Htun K. T.,Billy N. W.,and Aung K. P. (2015) Impacts of Agrogforestry practices on local livelihoods of the Ayeyarwaddy Delta towards the development of Community Forestry
  12. Tint, K., Springate-Baginski, O., and Mehm Ko Ko Gyi. (2011). Community Forestry in Myanmar: Progress & Potentials; Ecosystem Conservation and Community Development: Yangon, Myanmar pp. 20-80 Retrived from: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs13/Community+Forestry+in+Myanmar-op75-red.pdf    
  13. Gilbert J., Tugendhat H., Couillard V., & Doyle C. (2009). Business, Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples: The Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. (Call for Evidence:Business and Human Rights). Moreton-in-Marsh
  14. 14.014.1 Macqueen, D., Baral, S., Chakrabarti, L., Dangal, S., du Plessis, P., Griffiths, A., … others.(2012). Supporting small forest enterprises—a facilitator’s toolkit. International Institute for Environment and Development, London. Retrived from: http://pubs.iied.org/13558IIED/    
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