NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Myanmar's forest coverage is down to only a fifth of the country's total area and officials say they want a total ban on exporting wood to foreign countries.
The country's Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Committee said Wednesday total forest coverage area was down to 24 percent in 2008 from 51 percent in 2005, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.
The main cause of forest depletion, the committee said, was excessive cutting down of trees, illegal logging, less replanting and increased use of firewood.
Log exports, both legal and illegal, left the country with insufficient raw timber to manufacture finished products, a recent national seminar on energy, environment and climate change was told.
Finished-wood exporters at the seminar said based on the forest depletion report, they would be willing to completely stop exporting logs.
Myanmar exported $453 million in finished wood in the fiscal year 2008-09.
Myanmar is a major exporter of teak with 75 percent of the world market, most of it going to India, China, Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia.