The Myanmar Times
Sunday, 21 December 2014

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The Myanmar Times

Popa forest under threat, says NGO

The natural environment at Mt Popa is under threat because of land concessions and illegal clearing of trees for plantations, environmentalists say.

“On October 8, we caught a man who felled 1000 trees at Popa. This is the largest arrest in the area; in the past, we’ve found people who encroach into the national park by felling a few trees and then replant their own ones there,” said U Yuzana, the assistant headmaster at Shwe Nadi monastic school and a member of Popa Lovers Association.

The association began replanting trees, including teak, at the site near Yetin Creek on October 10.

The association was formed in August with the aim of preserving the environment at Mt Popa, a 1518-metre volcano in central Myanmar’s Kyaukpadaung township. Popa Mountain National Park, which covers 129 square kilometres, was established in 1989.

But despite the creation of the national park , the area faces a number of threats, including the felling of trees to allow for the extraction of pozzolan, which is often found at extinct volcanoes. Pozzolan can be used as a substitute for cement in construction projects.

The extraction of pozzolan generates a large amount of dust, and Popa Lovers Association says it could be harmful for the health of residents in eight villages in the area.

Member U Toe said tea plantations were also a blight on the natural landscape at Popa Mountain National Park.

“One company got 300 acres of land at the national park for less than K1.5 million for 30 years. That company already planted tea plantations over about 50 acres. If they finish all 300 acres, that will be a problem for the environment at Popa because they will need to fell trees to make room for the plantation,” he said.

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