7. Investigating timber exports

In April 2014 Myanmar enacted a log export ban in an effort to stem rampant over-extraction of timber in its dwindling forests. The annual allowable quota in the country has been regularly exceeded due to uncontrolled harvest and exports, with much being transported directly over its northern border with China, in spite of a requirement that all exports are routed via Yangon, in the south.

In June 2015 EIA investigators travelled to border crossings between Myanmar and China to assess the volume of logs exported in violation of the ban. In the town of Nongdao they documented thousands of tonnes of high-value teak, tamalan and padauk logs that had been brought into China from Myanmar. In the key transit town of Ruili, also inside China, investigators observed trucks unloading rosewood flitches on a daily basis. In early 2015 investigators documented long lines of timber trucks waiting to cross the border into China laden with logs.

EIA also employed covert methodologies, posing as timber buyers to obtain information from traders and logistics agents. This enabled them to establish a picture of the methods employed by the trade to gain access to resources, circumvent restrictions, and the complex web of individuals controlling the supply chain.

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