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Myanmar has the highest proportion of forest cover in mainland Southeast Asia. According to Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 44.2% of the country’s territory is covered with forests. A considerable part of these forests is still relatively intact, hosting exceptional biodiversity, including fishing cats, sun bears, dholes, binturongs, pangolins, and more than 1,000 bird species. Moreover, an estimated 70% of the country’s population is living in rural areas and heavily dependent on forests for their basic needs[1].

myanmar unreddTo protect the country’s natural wealth and at the same time fulfill various national and international commitments, such as Nationally Determined Contributions and Sustainable Development Goals, Myanmar is taking significant steps to implement REDD+ actions. Supported by the UN-REDD Programme, the Government of Myanmar has been implementing the Myanmar UN-REDD National Programme since 2016. Under the Programme, FAO has been supporting the government of Myanmar in the improvement and upgrading of the country’s National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS) and the development of a Forest Reference Level (FRL).

A national FRL is one of the main elements that countries are required to develop if they aim to participate in the international REDD+ mechanism under the Paris Agreement. Reference levels are expressed in tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year for a reference period against which the emissions and removals from a REDD+ implementation period will be compared. Thus, the FRL serves as a benchmark for assessing a country’s performance in implementing REDD+ activities.

Significant progress has been achieved in recent months as Myanmar submitted its draft FRL report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in January 2018. The emission factors for reducing deforestation were derived from data covering around 12,000 field plots from the district management plan inventories carried out during the reference period.

Crucial in the success of developing the Myanmar FRL was the use of open source forest monitoring tools hosted and developed by FAO. Franz Arnold, FAO Forestry Officer at the UN-REDD Programme Office in Myanmar commented on the country’s progress in the area:

“Since 2015, and with more emphasis during 2016, 2017, and 2018 technical personnel of the Forest Department of Myanmar were successively trained in using software tools of the Open Foris suite for large area land and forest assessment. These instruments work with freely available satellite images through Google Earth Engine as well as other sources and facilitate greatly the work on land monitoring as required for REDD+ reporting and other purposes.“

For measurement of enhancement of the forest carbon stock, Myanmar used data available from the establishment of forest plantations on bare land to calculate the amount of carbon removal during the same reference period. Enhancement of forest carbon stocks will be included as a key part of Myanmar’s National REDD+ Strategy. By doing so, the positive impacts of the 10-year Myanmar Reforestation and Rehabilitation Programme (MRRP) from 2017-27 can be measured and included as part of the results of the Strategy. 

Currently, UNFCCC technical assessment on FRL is underway. Myanmar has already received the Draft Report of the UNFCCC Technical Assessment process, and the goal is to update and submit the final version of the FRL in November 2018.

Furthermore, Myanmar is getting ready to start a new National Forest Inventory (NFI), as part of its efforts to improve its NFMS for REDD+, as well as for other domestic purposes. In December, an NFI methodology workshop is planned and the field testing and field training of the new NFI methodology is foreseen for the first quarter of 2019. The gathered data will play an important role in supporting forest research and fulfilling national and international reporting commitments. The new NFI will allow the country to obtain up-to-date, reliable, transparent and accessible information about the extent and nature of the country’s forests and guide decision and policy making for sustainable development of its forest resources.

 

Useful links:

REDD+ Myanmar website

Myanmar and the UN-REDD Programme

FAO’s work on NFMS

FAO’s work on FREL/FRL

Interview Together for smarter forests: Myanmar, Finland and FAO REDD+/NFM experts exchange knowledge on national forest inventories

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Ms Thinn Thitsar Kyaw,

Project Assistant,

UN-REDD Programme Myanmar

 

Mr Franz Arnold,

Forestry Officer,

UN-REDD Programme Myanmar