Fire destroys 8,000sq.m of forest

Fire destroys 8,000sq.m of forest

Last update 12:25 | 05/12/2018

VietNamNet Bridge – Nearly 8,000sq.m of the forest was destroyed after a fire broke out in Cua Ong Ward, Cam Pha Town in northern Quang Ninh Province on Tuesday.

Local authorities mobilized hundreds of local people, firefighters and soldiers to help extinguish the blaze.

As it is the dry season, the flames spread quickly. The location of the fire on top of a hill made it difficult to bring the flames under control.

The fire started at around 9.30am and it took more than an hour to extinguish the blaze.

The investigation is underway to find out the cause of the fire.

In October, the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry (VAF) urged localities nationwide to take drastic measures to prevent and control forest fires, given the hot and dry weather in the country.

Annually, the northern and central provinces are often hit by some 12 hot spells. This year, it is forecast that fewer hot periods will occur, and they will only last for a few days. However, it is likely that a hot spell, as severe as that in 2017, will hit Vietnam, according to the National Hydro-meteorological Forecast Centre.

In the 2017 summer season, Vietnam was hit by 15 hot spells on a large scale. In some localities, the temperature was recorded upwards of 41 to 42 degrees Celsius.


Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, but manages to fly well below the radar.

The most important country for the global climate no one is talking about

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases but manages to fly well below the radar.

World leaders are gathered this month in Katowice, Poland, for COP24, the most important global meeting on climate change since the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris. At the top of the agenda: getting countries to agree on rules to implement the Paris climate accords for 2020 when the pact goes into effect.

The meeting serves as a reminder of troubling facts — President Donald Trump still intends to withdraw the United States from the accord, and the most recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that we have just 12 years to limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But flying well below the radar in all of this is Indonesia, currently the world’s fifth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, which come mainly from land use, land use change, and forestry. Today Indonesia stands out for how little it has done to implement policies that would enable it to meet its commitment under the Paris agreement: cutting emissions from deforestation by 29 percent below business-as-usual projections by 2030.

“To really achieve the climate targets … there is a need to come up with new policies that are more ambitious,” Hanny Chrysolite, the forest and climate program officer with the World Resources Institute Indonesia, said.

In fact, Indonesia is moving in the opposite direction. The government plans to build more than 100 coal-fired power plants, and expand the production of palm oil for local biofuel consumption, which will involve further deforestation of carbon-rich tropical forests. Add the expansion of a car-centric transportation infrastructure, a growing middle class and very little investment in renewables, and you have the recipe for a climate disaster.

If Indonesia fails to reduce emissions and build a clean energy infrastructure, there is little hope for the world to meet its global climate goals. Like the US, China, India, and Europe, Indonesia is crucially important to the success of the Paris agreement. What’s needed now, climate experts on the ground say, is a rapid mobilization from the Indonesian government, the private sector, and the global community to shift the country to a new climate-conscious paradigm.

Indonesia’s forests are crucially important carbon stocks

Worldwide, emissions from land are responsible for about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to data from the World Bank. Indonesia is the largest global contributor to these emissions, spewing 240 to 447 million tons of CO2 annually from agriculture, the conversion of carbon-rich forests to plantations and other uses, according to data from Global Forest Watch.

Tropical rainforests and peatlands — wetland ecosystems that contain peat, a spongy, organic material formed by partially decayed plants — store huge amounts of carbon. According to a Nature Communications paper published in June, one hectare of rainforest converted into a palm oil plantation in Indonesia results in 174 lost tons of carbon.

“The quantity of carbon released when just one hectare of forest is cleared to grow oil palms is roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon produced by 530 people flying from Geneva to New York in economy class,” Thomas Guillaume, one of the authors, said in a statement.

Back in 2015, an extremely dry rainy season connected to a strong El Nino event led to massive fires across the archipelago, particularly on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. They emitted more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the United Kingdom does in an entire year.

Indonesia’s forests are still being cut down and fires are still burning

Unfortunately, there has been little progress towards reducing land-based emissions in Indonesia thus far. Despite the creation of a peatland restoration agency in 2016, followed by the extension of a moratorium on partial forest clearing, satellite monitoring shows that palm oil and paper plantations — the key drivers of deforestation and fires — continue to expand, with at least 10,000 square miles of primary forest and peatland disappearing since 2011, according to a civil society coalition.

“They are doing some good things, but it is not enough,” said Teguh Surya with Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan, an Indonesian environmental NGO. “Palm oil expansion is still in planning, and on the ground, we found some peat areas still open for plantation, there are still weaknesses in law enforcement.”

Essentially, efforts to reduce fires after the 2015 event have had too little an impact thus far, and current plans could make things a lot worse. More than 10 percent of the Indonesian population lives below the poverty line, and the country wants to build 3 million hectares of oil palm and sugar plantation in Papua. If these go forward, advocates worry that they could bring fire problems to the only part of the country with native forests intact and increase the country’s agricultural greenhouse gas emissions even more.

Indonesia’s growing economy and energy demands could make things much, much worse

Here’s where things get even more concerning. Even if all the plans to reduce deforestation succeed, fires are eliminated, and palm oil production is shifted towards sustainable practices, it might not be enough. Indonesia’s fast-growing middle class has an increasing demand for energy. In fact, WRI projects that by 2026 or 2027, energy, not land, will be the largest contributor of Indonesian emissions.

There are two facets to this challenge. One is electricity generation. Indonesia has vast coal reserves, mostly in Borneo, where coal mining is also a cause of deforestation. However, the global coal market has a glut, and Indonesian imports to places like China, South Korea, and India are falling. In response, the Indonesian government had a simple plan; replace this foreign demand with local consumption, through the construction of over 100 new coal-fired power plants throughout the country, 10,000MW of power generation capacity, on top of the existing current 42, making Indonesia one of the last places in the world pushing forward on coal energy.

Then there’s transportation. Indonesia is building new highways and car ownership is growing. Oil imports tripled between 2004-2012, and that’s despite the country’s fairly large oil and gas production capacity.

The real tragedy is that Indonesia has the immense renewable capacity, with ample wind, solar, hydro and geothermal resources across its many islands. Yet, currently, it is only utilizing a paltry 2 percent of that capacity, and even that is mostly from large-scale hydro — a poor choice for a number of reasons.

Some small signs of hope

One bright spot: the Indonesian government is finally ready to begin accepting payments as part of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program. REDD+ provides direct payments for preserving intact forests, and Norway has already pledged $1 billion specifically to protect Indonesian forests.

If climate finance can get scaled up, this could be a tool to provide substantial funds into forest protection. Jonah Busch, an environmental economist with the Earth Innovation Institute, thinks that Brazil, which dramatically pared its own deforestation between 1996 and 2010 (though the trend has been worrying since then), could be a model for Indonesia to reduce its own deforestation.

“Five, ten, or twenty billion [dollars] for protecting forests would have a much bigger impact,” said Busch. “That would happen when rich countries get much more serious about addressing climate change than they currently are.”

There is potential for clean energy too. A new parliamentary Green Economy Caucus has been created, and there are calls for a renewable energy law, which could level the playing field with fossil fuels. It may not take much support to allow alternatives like solar, wind, and geothermal to compete. In nearby China, India, and Thailand, clean energy is already competing with and beating fossil fuel, years ahead of projections. Indonesia could follow.

“Indonesia recently said that they won’t be contracting for more coal-fired power plants, already too many in the pipeline, and will focus on renewable energy targets and revising air emissions standards,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, an Asian coal and air pollution expert for Greenpeace. “A lot of positive things are happening.”

“The US not taking climate seriously gives a big excuse for the Indonesian government to not take it seriously either”

The question: Can these changes happen fast enough for Indonesia to hit the global targets? Right now, Indonesia’s policies are allowing for deforestation, and are far too fossil-fuel centric. Globally, climate investments and global funds like the maligned Green Climate Fund, which could further incentivize forest protection alongside REDD+, have yet to materialize, with disbursements far behind what was promised at Paris.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s abdication of responsibility for climate change means that countries like Indonesia will be less inclined to make the hard decisions essential to radically drawing down emissions.

“The US not taking climate seriously gives a big excuse for the Indonesian government to not take it seriously either,” said Busch. “They have lots of other domestic concerns.”

One thing that could help is stronger requirements from countries that import commodities responsible for deforestation and fires, such as palm oil. Europe — after years of grandstanding — is finally going to revise its biofuels policy to reduce imports of climate-intensive alternative fuels like palm oil. If more countries follow, this could force Indonesia to make the palm oil industry more sustainable.

Financial institutions can also play a greater role. Right now, many foreign banks, particularly those from Japan, are the chief funders of coal-fired power plants. Shifting those investments away from coal and towards clean energy projects could help hasten Indonesia’s move towards clean energy alternatives.

Indonesia can’t solve climate change on its own. But the world can’t stop climate change without Indonesia. Global financial institutions, including banks, funders, and foreign governments, need to do more to reduce deforestation, restore degraded land, and ensure the country does not get locked into decades of burning fossil fuels.

Nithin Coca is an Asia-focused freelance journalist covering environment, human rights, and political issues across the region.


Efforts made to prevent and fight forest fires

Efforts made to prevent and fight forest fires

Thursday, 2018-07-05 11:13:12

NDO – Most of the forest areas in the Northern and Central regions are at high risk of fire, often at level 5 (extremely dangerous). Forest fires have broken out in some localities, posing an urgent need for the active prevention of forest fires.

In the central province of Nghe An, forest fires broke out in Dien Chau, Yen Thanh, Nam Dan and Quynh Luu districts in the early days of July. According to the provincial Department of Forest Protection, in the coming days, the Foehn wind, caused by the impact of the southeastern edge of the western hot low-pressure area, will continue causing hot weather across the region with temperatures always over 40 degrees Celsius.

Most recently, at about 14.30 on July 3, in Quynh My commune, Quynh Luu district, Nghe An province, a fire broke out in the forest and quickly destroyed 1 hectare of four-year-old acacia forest. Functional forces and around 300 local people were mobilised to control the fire.

In Ha Tinh province, hot and severe weather makes the danger of forest fire a permanent threat. Within 10 days from June 21 to July 1, six forest fires occurred over a total area of over 37 hectares in the province. About 10 hectares of forest was damaged.

The northern mountainous province of Son La is also focusing on many measures and plans to actively prevent and fight forest fires. According to Director of the Forest Protection Department Luong Ngoc Hoan, the province is managing more than 600 hectares of forestry, of which the majority are specialised, mixed, and regenerating forests with a high risk of fire (levels 4 and 5). From the beginning of the year, the province has organised 2,789 grassroots forest ranger teams while more than 88,000 households in the province have signed a commitment to forest protection.

The Vietnam Forestry Administration has sent an urgent message on forest fire prevention and fighting to provinces and cities such as Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Quang Binh, Thua Thien – Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, and Khanh Hoa.

Accordingly, authorities at grassroots levels must promote communication works on fire prevention and fighting among their residents while forces should be ready around the clock in case forest fires occur.

Roles must be assigned among members of all-level steering boards of the national target programme on sustainable forestry development to enhance inspections. Meanwhile, military and police forces were ordered to stand ready to offer assistance in case of fires.

Forest ranger teams should work with people’s committees to direct and examine efforts to prevent forest fires while forest owners are responsible for upgrading their firefighting facilities.

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ASEAN ministers vow to fight transboundary haze

ASEAN ministers vow to fight transboundary haze

By: James Kon

ASEAN member countries of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have pledged to remain vigilant and step up preventive efforts to minimise any possible occurrence of transboundary smoke haze during periods of dry weather.

In a joint statement issued after the 20th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution (20th MSC) held on June 1 in Bangkok, ASEAN ministers underscored the importance of combating transboundary haze.

The meeting was attended by ministers/representatives responsible for the environment, for land, forest fires and haze from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand as well as the Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi.

The 20th Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Transboundary Haze Pollution (20th TWG) preceded the MSC.

Brunei Darussalam was represented by Minister of Development Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar along with Acting Permanent Secretary (Administration and Finance) at the Ministry of Development Dr Nor Imtihan binti Haji Abdul Razak and officials from the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation.

The ministers noted the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre’s (ASMC’s) weather outlook that the dry season in the southern ASEAN region was expected between June and October 2018 during which neither El-Niño nor La-Niña condition was forecast. During the season, occasional dry periods could result in an increase in the risk of hotspot activities in the region.

The ministers noted ASMC’s continual efforts in improving its monitoring and early warning of transboundary haze and appreciated its new five-year Regional Capability Building Programme that will benefit the ASEAN member states through the sharing of technical knowledge and skills in haze monitoring and weather and climate prediction.

In the joint statement, the ministers also noted with appreciation various initiatives and actions by MSC countries to address the transboundary haze pollution in the region. The MSC countries reaffirmed their readiness to provide assistance such as deployment of technical resources for firefighting assistance on emergency response situation, if requested, and to collaborate among MSC countries with enhanced cooperation and coordination to mitigate land and forest fires, when necessary.

The ministers recalled the commitment and guidance of the ASEAN leaders at the 31st ASEAN Summit held on November 13, 2017 in Manila and the 32nd ASEAN Summit held on April 28, 2018 in Singapore, towards regional cooperation on transboundary haze pollution control.

The ministers also reiterated their commitment to fully and effectively implement the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP) and the Roadmap on ASEAN Cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control (THPC) with Means of Implementation (the roadmap) to achieve a haze-free ASEAN by 2020.

They welcomed the progress towards the finalisation and operationalisation of the Establishment Agreement and Host Country Agreement of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre (ACC) for THPC in Indonesia.

The ministers also welcomed the progress on the implementation of the roadmap and looked forward to the mid-term review of its effectiveness as well as to sustain momentum in ensuring demonstrable improvements so as to achieve the vision of creating a haze-free ASEAN by 2020.

The ministers noted the discussion and substantial progress on the implementation of the strategic review of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee programmes and activities which include enhancing haze control management through early warning/monitoring and fire prevention and suppression, refinement of the Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS), revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for monitoring, assessment and joint emergency response under the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

The statement recalled that the ministers at the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (COP-13) held on September 12-13, 2017 in Brunei Darussalam had welcomed the endorsement of the modality for sharing hotspot information among MSC countries as recommended by the Seventh Meeting of the MSC Technical Task Force (7th MTTF). The ministers noted that the information sharing mechanism has been operationalised during the dry season in southern ASEAN.

The ministers noted the significant progress of the implementation of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS 2006-2020) through the ASEAN Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems (APSMPE 2014-2020) and expressed appreciation for the support from ASEAN dialogue and development partners.

The ministers recalled the Financing Agreement for the ASEAN-EU Programme on Sustainable Use of Peatland and Haze Mitigation in ASEAN (SUPA) which was signed on December 27, 2016 with an indicative budget of EUR24.5 million for the duration of 60 months and looked forward to the programme implementation in 2018.

They also looked forward to the finalisation and signing of Large Grant Agreement of the Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia (MAHFSA), a programme supported by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), amounting USD3.5 million for duration of 60 months.

The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to coordinate the implementation of programmes/projects under APSMPE (2014-2020) through ASEAN mechanisms, enhanced national level efforts and multi-stakeholder partnership. They also supported the second review of APMS to be undertaken by the ASEAN Task Force on Peatlands.

The ministers expressed their appreciation to the Royal Thai Government for hosting the 20th MSC Meeting, the excellent arrangements made and the generous hospitality provided.

The 21st MSC Meeting will be held in Brunei Darussalam in 2019.

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Titik Api Muncul, Pemerintah Gerak Cepat Padamkan Kebakaran Hutan, Jakarta – Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan (KLHK) telah meningkatkan kesiapsiagaan dalam pengendalian kebakaran hutan dan lahan (karhutla).

Hal ini seiring terpantaunya 22 titik panas yang tersebar di Aceh, Sumatera Barat, Bengkulu, Sulawesi Selatan, Sulawesi Tengah, dan Sulawesi Tenggara melalui Satelit TERRA-AQUA, Sabtu, 3 Februari 2018, malam.

Brigade Pengendalian Kebakaran Hutan dan Lahan (Dalkarhutla) KLHK–Manggala Agni, telah melakukan pemantauan dan pemadaman dini pada lokasi titik panas.

Direktur PKHL KLHK Raffles B. Pandjaitan mengatakan Manggala Agni Daops Malili telah memadamkan api di lahan warga di Desa Ussu, Kecamatan Malili, Kabupaten Luwu Timur, Sulawesi Selatan.

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