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Forestry Dept seizes 10 tons of timber from boat in Katha

Forestry officers detain men accused of smuggling ten tons of timber on a boat on the Irrawaddy River in Sagaing Division on 13 September 2016. (PHOTO: DVB)

Forestry Department officials in Sagaing Division’s Katha Township say they have seized illegal timber that was being smuggled on a boat.

The officials, based on a tipoff, searched the boat on the Irrawaddy River on Tuesday and found around 10 tons of timber in a hidden compartment. The department’s chief Tin Htun told DVB that officials were continuing a search of the boat.

“We have found and seized some illegal timber – there are still spaces to be searched,” said Tin Htun.

He said the seized timber has been confiscated as public property, and its owner and the operator of the boat will now be detained and charged under the Forestry Law.

Tuesday’s arrests are just the latest in a spate of confrontations between forestry officers and timber smugglers, some of which have been violent.

Locals in Katha said there has been a hike in the price of timber in the region due to illegal logging and wood smuggling.

A ban on the export of Burmese timber was put into effect on 1 April 2014. Then in April this year, a total ban on logging was enacted by the new Aung San Suu Kyi-led government in a bid to save Burma’s forests.

According to Forestry Ministry data, forest cover had shrunk to 47 percent of land area in 2010, compared to 58 percent in 1990.