A Treasure of Myanmar, Unrivalled Timber
Amelia Lynn
May , 2017

Myanmar is a country gifted with sprawling forests and other natural resources. Forests in Myanmar fall under two categories; reserved forests and public forests. Combined, they cover 40 per cent of the national land area. These forests have about 7,000 plant species and, according to Forest Department, eightyfive of the 2,088 tree species in Myanmar produce multipurpose timber of high quality. Among those tree species, Teak is the most popular among the signature timbers of Myanmar. Myanmar’s teak forests account for nearly half of the world’s naturally occurring teak. Teak is mostly found in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia, but the most precious and valuable teak comes from Myanmar. Myanmar teak wood (formerly known as Burmese teak wood to differentiate natural-grown teaks from teak grown on plantations) is denser, tighter grained and has more natural oil than any other teak woods. Its natural oil makes the timber termite and pest resistant. Teak is durable even when not treated with oil or varnish and also resistant to water. It is considered one of the most durable timbers in the world and its natural durability is one of the prerequisites that makes teak a high quality timber.

Domestic market studies indicate that 60 per cent of furniture manufacturers use only teak, whereas the remainder use both teak and other hardwoods. The first teak plantations in Myanmar were established in 1856. By the end of 1941, the total area of plantations had reached 47,167 ha. Large-scale plantation forestry began in 1980 and more than 30,000 ha of plantations have been established each year since 1984. The quality of Myanmar Teak is naturally already good. The stem is normally cylindrical and straight, apart from the teak from northern regions, which is rather flat and cross-grained. The branches on younger aged trees are naturally pruned in both the natural and plantation teak. Since the size of the trees harvested is rather large, the presence of knots is less pronounced.

Growth rings of teak can be found between 2-13 per inch. Teak plantation in Thayawaddy showed an average growth ring of 4.3 per inch. The optimum number of growth rings per inch is commonly accepted to be six, which increase the strength properties. Beyond that the strength decreases in such a way that it is about the same as 15-20 rings per inch, which is extremely poor strength value. In the early years of the tree life, the strength properties of wood are comparatively low, but under normal growth conditions, they rise steadily for twenty years to reach a level at which thy remain more or less constant. It is rather obvious that slow grown and fast grown teaks have different properties and one may be useful for one purpose but it may not be good for another purpose. Teakwood of very fast growth is weaker and spongy.

Teak timber is exceptionally stable under changes of temperature and moisture. It is free from warping in drying. It is easy to handle, polish and it has elasticity and solid fibre, each facilitating woodworking and enabling wood workers to create a broad spectrum of products. Thus it is widely considered the best raw material in furniture building. Studies found out that teak is low in shrinkage. With its superb stability, good strength properties, easy workability—and most of all, its outstanding resistance to decay and rot— it’s no wonder that Teak ranks among the most desired lumbers in the world.