In this regard, FAO has been supporting the Forest Department in organizing the public consultations for draft forest rules in Myanmar. These consultations are conducted to obtain public opinions, to promote people’s awareness in forestry policies and laws, and to include the public concerns in the final amendment of forest rules.

The public consultations were conducted in northern (Hakha Township) and southern parts (Mindat Township) of Chin State in May and July. Vibrant debates and discussions occurred among the multi-stakeholder groups during the consultations on the recognition of customary tenure of forest and land in the forest rules, the communities’ participation, benefit sharing and livelihood benefit, and the role of women and empowerment of disadvantaged groups considered in draft rules. In addition, it was also discussed about the extent to which the draft rules integrate the binding principles of the international conventions and agreement ratified by Myanmar as well as the international best practices of forest governance and management.

The consultations improved the engagement of government departments with the public, and promoted the public hearing in the forest related governance issues and impacts on the lives of forest dwellers, communities and local business.

FAO remains committed and prioritizes to increase awareness of policy and legal framework on forest resources among the government institutions/departments/ministries, the local communities, and various multi-stakeholder groups by facilitating and supporting through extended public consultations exercises that will identify the preoccupations of the local community and allow the decision makers to include them in their discussions and analysis and finally integrate them in an effective way in the laws, rules and regulations. By being inclusive and participatory the legal and regulatory framework governing forest resource in Myanmar will certainly be strengthened.