By Rhett Butler   |   Last updated July 31, 2014

In the 1990s and 2000s, Myanmar, the country formerly called Burma, was an environmental pariah, with a high deforestation rate and widespread illegal logging. Now with the country opening up to foreign investment, there are fears that forest conversion could increase, a prospect that especially concern conservationists given climbing deforestation since 2000.

Myanmar's dense forests are found mostly in Shan (25 percent of the country's forests using a 50 percent tree cover threshold), Kachin (19 percent), and Sagaing (14 percent) in the northern parts of the country. These states and regions have also had the highest aggregate loss of forests, amounting to nearly 850,000 hectares between 2000 and 2012, according to research led by Matthew Hansen.

Overall Myanmar lost some 1.4 million ha of forest since 2000, ranking it well behind Indonesia and Malaysia, but ahead of other Mekong nations, including Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Drivers of deforestation in Myanmar include conversion for agriculture, both subsistence and industrial; legal and illegal logging, including establishment of teak plantations; and various types of mining.

Global Forest Watch image showing
recent forest loss and gain in Myanmar.

Myanmar's protected area system lags behind its peers in the region, but conservation groups are stepping up programs. There is a lot to protect: Myanmar has some 1709 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 4.7% are endemic and 5.9% are threatened. Myanmar is home to at least 7000 species of vascular plants, of which 15.3% are endemic.

Total forest areaDense forest areaForest gainForest lossTotal land area
>10% tree cover (ha)% total land cover>50% tree cover (ha)% total land cover2001-2012 (ha)% total forest cover2001-2012 (ha)% total forest cover(ha)

Pie chart showing forest cover in Myanmar
Pie chart showing forest cover in Myanmar

Forest cover by state in Myanmar

Chart: aggregate forest loss by year in Myanmar/Burma
Chart: aggregate forest loss by year in Myanmar/Burma

chart: annual forest loss by state/region in Myanmar/Burma
Chart: annual forest loss by state/region in Myanmar/Burma

Forest loss by state/region in Myanmar
Forest loss by state/region in Myanmar

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Myanmar Forest Figures

Forest Cover
Total forest area: 32,222,000 ha
% of land area: 49%

Primary forest cover: n/a
% of land area: 0.0%
% total forest area: n/a

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -466,400 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -1.4%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 13.5%
Total forest loss since 1990: -6,997,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-17.8%

Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990:n/a

Forest Classification
Public: 100%
Private: 0%
Other: 0%
Production: 77%
Protection: 4.7%
Conservation: 15.2%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: 3.2%
None or unknown: n/a

Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 32,222,000 ha
Primary: n/a
Modified natural: 31,373,000 ha
Semi-natural: n/a
Production plantation: 696,000 ha
Production plantation: 153,000 ha

Plantations, 2005: 849,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 2.6%
Annual change rate (00-05): 30,600,000 ha

Carbon storage
Above-ground biomass: 5,109 M t
Below-ground biomass: 1,226 M t

Area annually affected by
Fire: 6,500,000 ha
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a

Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 2,000
Critically endangered: 13
Endangered: 12
Vulnerable: 12

Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 3,880,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 39,180,000 m3 o.b.

Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: $838,479,000
Wood fuel: $51,415,000
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): $11,761,000
Total Value: $901,655,000

More forest statistics for Myanmar

Suggested reading - Books

CIA-World Factbook Profile
FAO-Forestry Profile
World Resources Institute