Teak Policies & Legislation

Natural Forests

Policies and legislation ban or severely restrict harvesting in natural forests in all the countries within teak's natural range except Myanmar. Logging in Myanmar is conducted according to the Myanmar Selection System: the Forest Department selects mature trees for harvest and Myanmar Timber Enterprises, a government corporation, is the sole agency responsible for extraction. As a result of Myanmar's long experience with harvesting under this system, teak management is generally well regarded in terms of environmental sustainability (Wint, 1998).

All industrial harvesting in the natural forests of Thailand has been banned since 1989, although logging of teak has reportedly continued illegally in some areas, notably along the Myanmar border (for example, in Salween National Park) (Bangkok Post, 1998). One effect of the ban appears to be an increase in harvest levels in neighboring Myanmar (as well as in Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic). For example, where average annual log exports from Myanmar had been 400 000 m3 in the period 1985 to 1989, they increased to 1 225 000 m3 in the period 1990 to 1994 (FAO, 1999b).

In India, clear-felling of teak has been banned in most teak-growing provinces since 1986. In 1997, a Supreme Court order placed further restrictions on the felling of any tree in natural forest areas. Harvesting in natural forests may only be carried out in accordance with the working plans of state governments. As a result, Indian teak imports have increased dramatically. Within India, the absence of recent data on teak production makes it impossible to quantify market effects.

Teak harvesting in the Lao People's Democratic Republic has been largely prohibited since 1989. Much of the current production is the recovery of old logs from previous harvesting and from areas of shifting cultivation, which is estimated to amount to around 500 m3 per year. In principle, the country applies a ban on log exports, although significant volumes of roundwood are still exported as a result of technical loopholes (Gyi and Tint, 1998).

Log export restrictions or taxes in a number of other teak-producing countries, particularly Indonesia but also the Philippines, Viet Nam, peninsular Malaysia and Ghana, also have an influence on the global teak trade.