100 arrested for Myanmar logging

100 arrested for Myanmar logging

YANGON - More than 100 foreigners, most of them Chinese, were arrested in northern Myanmar in a crackdown on illegal logging, a media report said Tuesday.

A total of 142 people, including 102 foreigners, were arrested during a military operation against logging in restive Kachin state between Jan 2-4, the army-run Myawaddy newspaper reported.

Documents appearing to allow the logging signed by a Kachin Independence Army officer were found on the suspects, the army said.

Some 464 vehicles and drugs were also seized, said the report.

Myanmar banned the export of teak logs for the first time in April to reduce deforestation, but illegal logging is still rife in remote border areas, especially in northern parts of the country.

"The fighting in northern parts of the country was the main driver of the illegal timber trade," said Nyi Nyi Kyaw, deputy director general of Forest Department.

"Only the army can crack down on illegal logging in these areas as it's very hard for us to go there," he said.

Myanmar's forest cover fell by around a fifth between 1990 and 2010, from 58 per cent of the country to 47 per cent, according to government figures.

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