Publication Thumbnail
Biodiversity Climate Communities Forests

Charcoal Production in Myanmar: Links to Illegality, Deforestation, and Rural Livelihoods in Tanintharyi Region

By Kevin M. Woods
View Publication

Myanmar has the highest rate of mangrove loss in Southeast Asia, despite widespread recognition that these ecosystems are critical to protect local villages from coastal flooding. Charcoal production is a significant driver of mangrove deforestation in the country.


Forest Trends’ new data shows that the Myanmar Forest Department significantly underestimates the volume of mangrove firewood harvested for charcoal production in Tanintharyi Region – the center of Myanmar’s charcoal industry – and that households consume far more charcoal, and harvest more firewood, than what is officially reported. Exports to neighboring Thailand and China are booming, in violation of Myanmar laws.


Government efforts to regulate charcoal production through a permitting system have actually increased the problem, granting permits to the wealthy to start new businesses, while forcing the poor to continue with illegal practices. Government efforts to curb deforestation in charcoal producing regions will need to support alternative pro-poor livelihoods, as well as community led mangrove conservation. In addition, greater enforcement, promotion of sustainable household energy production, and the availability of non-charcoal cooking alternatives are equally important.

Charcoal production, local livelihoods, and mangrove ecosystems

(Figure 2)