Myanmar remains one of the countries with the most extensive forests in Asia after being isolated for decades from a big part of the international trade. Today, forty-five percent of the country is still forested, according to official statistics, and a quarter of that is primary forest. However, the country also has one of the fastest deforestation rates in the region  that has increased since the country opened up to foreign investment.
The country lost an average of 445,000 hectares of forest per year between 1990 and 2000 (0.6 percent of the forest) and 320,000 hectares per year from 2000 to 2010. That figure has jumped to 566,000 hectares per year since 2010 . Between 2011 and 2013, the volume of timber exported – logs, sawn wood, plywood, veneer, and furniture – leaped from about 2.7 million cubic meters to more than 3.3 million, according to a report by NGO Forest Trends . This new increase in the trade of logs was in part related to land concessions, in particular, industrial agriculture estates, that quickly became a significant source of “conversion timber", the report says.
One of the regions most heavily affected by the illegal logging recently is Sagaing, a highly forested area in the northwestern part of the country, between the border with India and Kachin State . Since the country started a political transition from dictatorship to democracy in 2011, logging has increased in this vast province of Myanmar, activists have told media , despite the fact that most of the forests are protected. Thus, there are 160 reserved forests and 87 protected forests in Sagaing Region . According to a report , the Sagaing region registered the second highest deforestation rate in the country, losing 279,861 hectares or 8,06 percent between 2002 and 2014. Thus, in 2014 the intact forest was still covering 3,191671 hectares or 34% of the region. Most of the log is illegally sent to India and China, even though there are not numbers of the amounts of timber smuggled.
Some organizations, most of them international, are monitoring the situation on the ground, but this task has proven risky. Thus, in December 2016, journalist Soe Moe Tun was found beaten to death while he was reporting on logging issues in Monywa, the area’s commercial hub . The 35-year-old journalist had been reporting on logging issues since early 2015, according to his employer, Eleven Media Group .
Over the last years, the government has implemented several measures to try to curb the illegal logging in the country. Thus, in April 2014 imposed a ban on log exports  and the new government led by Aung San Suu Kyi banned logging in natural forests for a year between 2016 and 2017 . After lifting the ban, the government announced that it would eliminate the use of contractors and that the Myanma Timber Enterprise, a state-owned company, would have the monopoly of the timber harvesting in the country. The government has also ordered timber production to be reduced by 40 percent in the 2017-18 fiscal year . Myanmar is also expected to disclose key information on the logging business in its upcoming report for the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) .
Nevertheless, despite the ban, Myanmar forestry authorities seized some 6,637 tons of timber in a crackdown on illegal cutting of wood across the country in the first eight months (April-November) of the fiscal year 2017-18 . The government recognized that the lack of enforcement of the law was one of the main causes of the illegal logging.