YANGON, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar authorities seized over 27,000 tons of illegal logs and timber in the first seven months of the 2016-17 fiscal year, the the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation said on Monday.
Among the seizure was a case in Putao in northernmost Kachin state, where 7,000 tons of logs were confiscated, the forest department of the ministry said.
The seizure during the April-October period also included 3,000 tons' illegally felled logs of teak and hardwood confiscated in Bago region with over 500 traffickers arrested.
Authorities seized over 2,400 tons of timber from smugglers in 2015-16, according to the figures of the department.
Myanmar suspended logging in the current fiscal year. However, it said that it will allow resumption of limited timber production in the 2017-18 fiscal year in order to prevent entrepreneurs engaged in the industry from suffering shortage of raw materials.
Timber extraction was forced to a halt this year resulting from excessive deforestation in previous years.
The number of teak trees in Myanmar has gradually declined due to illegal logging. Statistics show that forest coverage in Myanmar dropped to 45 percent in 2015 from over 57 percent in 1990.
However, the ministry is planning to replant teak in Bago mountain range in a bid to protect natural resources.
Myanmar is one of most resource-rich countries in Southeast Asia covered by 38 percent mixed deciduous forests, 25 percent hills and temperate evergreen forests.
Meanwhile, the Myanmar government has restricted wood logs export to encourage more export of value added wood products since 2014.