Thailand detects over 15,000 hotspots in forests and farmlands

Thailand detects over 15,000 hotspots in forests and farmlands

The most hotspots in the North amounted to 2,823 in Mae Hong Son province, followed by 1,971 hotspots in Lampang and 1,665 in Chiang Mai.

The Interior Ministry has detected 15,716 hotspots which cause haze so far this year.

Sutthipong Chulcharoen, permanent secretary of the Interior Ministry, said that from Jan 1 to March 20 there were 15,716 hotspots including 6,757 in national forest reserves, 4,594 in conservation forests and 2,172 in farmland.

The most hotspots in the North amounted to 2,823 in Mae Hong Son province, followed by 1,971 hotspots in Lampang and 1,665 in Chiang Mai.

In the corresponding period last year there were 51,536 hotspots. This year’s hotspots dropped by 35,820 or 69.50%.

Mr Sutthipong said the Interior Ministry instructed governors of all provinces, especially those in 17 Northern provinces, to monitor local forest fires, hotspots and haze situations, improve response plans and order organizations concerned to take legal action strictly to limit haze. (TNA)


Sustainable forests for combating climate change

Sustainable forests for combating climate change

Reporter: Prisca T V, Mecca Yumna | Editor: Sri Haryati
21 March 2022

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Indonesia is ready to embark on a new chapter of life, as the Nusantara Capital City begins its development with the rehabilitation of forests in the area, as said by President Joko Widodo.

During a visit to the Mentawir Nursery, North Penajam Paser District, East Kalimantan, on March 14, 2022, the president said that the rehabilitation was meant to revitalize the forest area around the city to its original function as a tropical forest and not a homogeneous monoculture expanse of vegetation.

Efforts to rehabilitate forests in the new capital will be supported by construction of the Mentawir Nursery that will produce 15-20 million seedlings to be planted in critical lands.

The measure was taken to materialize the concept of a forest city for the new capital, wherein of the 256 thousand hectares of the IKN authority area, around 70 percent is in the form of natural cover and trees.

Not only the new capital city, but other forests in Indonesia were also rehabilitated by the government, through the Environment and Forestry Ministry, in a bid to suppress the rate of deforestation in the country.

Rehabilitation efforts have been one of Indonesia’s focuses in recent years. The focus also extended to peat and mangrove areas.

Establishment of the Peatland Restoration Agency, which is now the Peat and Mangrove Restoration Agency, indicated the government’s commitment to restoring and rehabilitating degraded peat and mangrove areas.

The forestry and other land use (FOLU) sector is also in the spotlight when Indonesia targets a net carbon sink in the sector by 2030. It was expected that net zero emissions could be achieved in 2060 or earlier.

In the updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) climate target document, Indonesia targets a 29-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 alone. If the global community extended its support, it is expected to reach the 41-percent target of reduction.

Of these targets, FOLU has the largest reduction target of 17.2 percent through individual efforts and 24.1 percent with support from the global community.

The rest came from the energy sector (11 percent and 15.5 percent), waste (0.38 percent and 1.4 percent), agriculture (0.32 percent and 0.13 percent), and industry and product use or IPPU (0. 10 percent and 0.11 percent).

Indonesia’s commitment in the FOLU sector resulted in several achievements, one of which was the reduction of deforestation by 75 percent to 115,460 hectares during the 2019-2020 period.

This figure shows a decrease as compared to the deforestation of 462,460 hectares during the 2018-2019 period.

According to the ministry’s data, the gross deforestation rate during the 2019-2020 period reaches around 119,091 hectares, with reforestation covering an area of 3,631 hectares. Meanwhile, gross deforestation during the 2018-2018 period was recorded at 465,500 hectares and the reforestation area reached three thousand hectares.

The area burned due to forest fires has decreased in recent years. Based on SiPongi data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the area burned in 2021 reached 358,867 hectares, or up from 296,942 hectares in 2020.

However, this number shows a drastic decrease from the area burned in 2015 and 2019, which reached 2.6 million hectares and 1.6 million hectares, respectively.

In 2021, vegetative forest and land rehabilitation efforts were also conducted in an area of 203,386 hectares.

It comprises forest rehabilitation in an area of 46,752 hectares and mangrove rehabilitation in an area of 35,881 hectares.

As efforts to rehabilitate the land were made in an area of 67,138.73 hectares, so were the efforts to rehabilitate watersheds spanning an area of 11,709 hectares.

Sustainable forest

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar stated that Indonesia will continue to move to fulfill its commitments to control climate change without waiting for promises from developed countries. She delivered the statement on the occasion of the 2022 Forester Service Day.

To cement Indonesia’s commitment to achieving the FOLU Net Sink target by 2030, the ministry issued the Decree of the Environment and Forestry Ministry Number 168 of 2022 that contains the 2030 FOLU Net Sink Operational Plan.

The minister stated that after 2030, the FOLU sector was expected to be able to absorb greenhouse gases along with reducing emissions from energy transition activities as well as other sector exploration activities to achieve carbon neutral or net zero emissions by 2060.

Minister Bakar said that the program would apply the principles of sustainable development that include sustainable forest management as well as environmental governance and carbon management.

The main target remains on the efforts to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, she highlighted.

Although it is not easy, Indonesia will continue to employ the principles of sustainability as the basis for environmental development.

This sustainable foundation is also the theme of World Forest Day 2022, which is commemorated every March 21. This year’s theme is “Forests and Sustainable Production and Consumption.”

As quoted from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) website of the United Nations, sustainable forest management is one of the keys to dealing with climate change.

Forests also play an important role in addressing poverty issues and meeting the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Herry Purnomo of the Faculty of Forestry at Bogor Agricultural University opined that public contribution was necessary to encourage sustainable forest management.

One effort that the public can make to contribute to the cause is to use certified forestry products.

The professor deemed it important since by buying certified products, the entrepreneur or forest manager would strive to meet such demands, thereby following the regulations of sustainable forest management.

Some of the certificates for sustainable forest production are the Timber Legality Verification System, or SVLK, issued by the government. SVLK aims to ensure that wood products and their raw materials are obtained from legal sources.

There are also several other certifications, such as global-scope ecolabels issued by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Some products with certifications that can be used by the community were furniture and paper, he pointed out.

To encourage the public to use forest products from sustainable sources, it is necessary to promote the behavior on a national or regional scale. People could start by using certified forestry products in government buildings.

He also called for consistency in the environmental recovery efforts that had been successfully brought up by Indonesia, using the momentum, such as the Indonesian G20 Presidency.

He expected that annually, efforts would be made consistently to decrease deforestation and increase reforestation.

Indonesia currently leads in terms of reducing deforestation, and the global community is mostly focused on various efforts being undertaken in the country.

By consistently pushing for a sustainable system and encouraging environmental recovery, Indonesia can lead by setting an example, backed up by the leadership of the G20 2022, he concluded.



Illegal burning in Northern Thailand contributes harmful levels of air pollutant PM2.5

Illegal burning in Northern Thailand contributes harmful levels of air pollutant PM2.5

Published on

Illegal burning in more than 135 areas in the northern province Mae Hong Son has contributed to the rise of the air pollutant PM2.5 to levels considered to be harmful to human health. Authorities are also concerned that the poor air quality could also worsen the condition of Covid-19 patients in the area. Today, the air quality in Mae Hong Son reached what IQ Air considers “Very Unhealthy” levels.

Some fires in the north of Thailand are from crop burning where farmers intentionally set fire to fields after harvesting to quickly clear the land and fertilise the soil. The debate on the illegality of crop burning has been a longstanding issue between farmers and the Thai government.

Thai media reports that some officials suspect that some of the fires were caused by illegal gangs smuggling teak wood and burning the stumps to destroy the evidence. The Mueang district chief officer, Pongpeera Choochuen, says those who start the fires in the forest will be arrested and face criminal charges.

A satellite also detected 1,000 hot spots in the province’s preserved forests which are at risk of wildfire. Pongpeera is urging residents in the Mueang district to help monitor the forest. By communities, he says residents should set firebreaks, which are typically strips of bare soil to prevent a fire from spreading. He also asked residents to keep a lookout at who is going in and out of the forest.

SOURCE: Khaosod | Siamrath


Deforestation in Southeast Asia

Deforestation in Southeast Asia


Forests cover just over 30% of the global land area, yet they harbour a vast majority of the world’s wildlife species – including 80% of the world’s amphibians, 75% of birds, and 68% of mammals. But since 1990, over 420 million hectares of forest have been lost as a result of human activity, largely due to deforestation and land clearing for agricultural purposes and logging. Southeast Asia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world to support the region’s agricultural and food production, as well as other raw material industries. We discuss what was the major cause of deforestation in Southeast Asia and look ahead to the future. 

Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand, is home to nearly 15% of the world’s tropical forests, which makes it all the more attractive as a deforestation hotspot. The region has one of the highest rates of deforestation, losing at least 1.2% of its forests annually, which is comparable only to Latin America where deforestation rates in the Amazon account for one-third of global tropical deforestation.


Fire fighters containing forest fires in Ob Khan national park in Chiang Mai

Fire fighters containing forest fires in Ob Khan national park in Chiang Mai

March 5, 2022

Chiang Mai Provincial Governor Prachon Prachsakul has ordered local officials and relevant agencies to assist in containing the spread of forest fires at Ob Khan national park in the province.

About 35 fire fighters from the national park and the Mirror Foundation, who have been battling the fires, have complained that there are not enough of them to cope with the fires, which have been burning for more than three days and stretch for about three kilometres through the forest in the park.

Without timely reinforcements, they have expressed concern that the entire 6,000 hectare forest may be wiped out.

The line of fires is located far from communities, but satellite images have detected many hot spots, many of them close together.

Nipaporn Paisarn, the national park chief, said that damage to the forest cannot be assessed yet.

According to the governor, the fires are concentrated in four locations in the park and men from Hang Dong district office have already been sent to battle the fires.

Meanwhile in the neighbouring province of Mae Hong Son, the level of PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere is beyond safety limits due to fires in the province and in Myanmar.

2,000 hot spots have been detected in Myanmar and 800 in Mae Hong Son from satellite images.

Most fires in Thailand’s northern provinces were man-made, when farmers burn farm waste or when villagers set fires in forests to help them hunt for wildlife.


16 Hotspots of Possible Forest Fires Detected in East Kalimantan

16 Hotspots of Possible Forest Fires Detected in East Kalimantan

Translator: Antara | Editor: Petir Garda Bhwana
28 February 2022 10:47 WIB

TEMPO.COJakarta – The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) detected 16 hotspots indicating forest fires in five districts in East Kalimantan Province.

“A total of 16 hotspots are detected today starting at 1 a.m. until 4 p.m. WITA (Central Indonesian Standard Time) and we have immediately conveyed (the information) to the respective districts,” Iwan Munandar, forecaster at the Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman (SAMS) Sepinggan Meteorology Station, said on Saturday.


Thailand: Foreign tourists moved to safety as forest fire breaks out in Phuket’s Rawai area

Thailand: Foreign tourists moved to safety as forest fire breaks out in Phuket’s Rawai area

Sunday, 06 Feb 2022

BANGKOK, Feb 6 (The Nation Thailand/ANN): Tourists were evacuated when a forest fire broke out on Laem Krating Cape in Phuket’s Rawai subdistrict on Saturday night (Feb 5).


Smog from Cambodia brings haze to parts of Malaysia

Smog from Cambodia brings haze to parts of Malaysia

Published by: ARNOLD LOH | NATION | Friday, 28 Jan 2022

GEORGE TOWN: Smog from tens of hotspots burning in Cambodia – about 1,000km away – is blowing toward Malaysia, bringing haze to northern states.

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), based in Singapore, reported that satellite cameras have detected massive fire-prone areas emitting smoke plumes in northern and eastern Cambodia as well as parts of southern Laos.

The northeast monsoon has been blowing the smoke towards Malaysia and ASMC forecasts a slight to moderate haze.

The Air Pollutant Index (API) of Malaysia website operated by the Environment Department shows that for most parts of Kelantan, Terengganu, southern Kedah and Penang have moderate API readings in the 60s to 70s.

In South Seberang Prai, Penang, the API is 92, but this is due to Penang’s landfill fire in Pulau Burung.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department also sent out a haze alert on Thursday (Jan 28), characterising the hotspots in Cambodia as forest fires.

On Jan 11, Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia reported that the nation’s forest fires are “frequently caused by human activities, such as burning brush that has been cleared on plantations, burning tree stumps in fields to make it easier to grow crops, creating grasslands for livestock or in poaching attempts as well as to harvest honey from wild bees”.

In Shah Alam and Klang in Selangor, the API reading is in the 70s to 80s.

An API reading of 0-50 is considered Good, Moderate (51-100), Unhealthy (101-200), Very Unhealthy (201-300) and Hazardous (above 300).


Depoliticising Southeast Asia’s forest fire pollution

Depoliticising Southeast Asia’s forest fire pollution

Authors: Jayaprakash Murulitharan, University of Cambridge and Matthew Ashfold, University of Nottingham Malaysia

The almost annual haze in southern Southeast Asia originates from both natural and anthropogenic forest fires in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Forests are cleared for small-scale and commercial agriculture, which is often linked to key economic sectors like oil palm and pulpwood.

The ‘slash and burn’ method is a cheap and quick way to prepare land for cultivation. If done on peatlands, this method involves drainage, making the area extremely fire-prone. Carbon-rich peat fires often extend underground where they are hard to control. Regional hot and dry weather patterns prolong the fires and transport smoke haze across borders.

The 2015 Southeast Asia haze was estimated to have caused between 40,000 and 100,000 deaths across the region. While the 2019 episode was less severe, the World Bank estimates that Indonesia — where most of the fires originate — suffered US$5.2 billion in agriculture, industry, trade, tourism, transportation and environmental sector losses.

ASEAN began to acknowledge haze as a regional concern in 1985 with the Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, which specifically referenced air pollution and ‘transfrontier environmental effects’.

Following the 1997–98 haze event, the 2002 ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP) — committing ASEAN member states to combat sources of haze — was established. Despite its legally binding status, the agreement was watered-down during the negotiation process. In the ASEAN spirit of non-confrontation, it does not contain any enforcement or dispute resolution mechanisms and it only came into full effect in 2014 with Indonesia’s ratification.

Article 17 of the AATHP stipulates that member states should ‘support scientific and technical research programmes’ related to transboundary haze pollution, but no member state has operationalised any such program beyond basic knowledge-sharing.

One way to operationalise Article 17 would be to create an ASEAN Panel of Technical and Scientific Experts that would address two sticking points in regional haze cooperation: data validity and establishing the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control.

Under the current framework, member states coordinate information and policy on transboundary haze at the ministerial-level Conference of the Parties (COP) to the AATHP, the Committee (COM) under the COP to the AATHP, and ministerial sub-regional committees supported by technical working groups.

Member states individually present their technical findings at the working group meetings before COM/COP and ministerial sub-regional committee meetings. While this often highlights member states’ different meteorological capabilities, it also results in prolonged debates over the validity of each country’s data. For example, the current country-based situation report mechanisms lead to disputes over satellite ‘hotspot’ (thermal anomaly possibly indicating fire) validity and ground-truthing.

The proposed panel could draw inspiration from the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, in which assessment panels provide technical information to the parties involved. Their reports reflect up-to-date scientific findings and include consensus statements on the quality and consistency of data sources. The panel could evaluate on-the-ground and satellite-based information on fires, land use, regional transport and the distribution of haze pollution.

Scientists from all member states should be represented in the ASEAN panel. The Montreal Protocol and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that experts can contribute to a scientific consensus independent of their home country’s views.

The panel would report its consensus at working group, COP and ministerial sub-regional committee meetings. While previous diplomatic flashpoints were a consequence of centralising regional meteorological capabilities with one member state, a consensus approach would alleviate such concerns. The panel’s report could replace individual technical findings, which could help to focus discussions on prevention, mitigation and adaptation.

This approach would address member states’ different meteorological capabilities while enhancing evidence-based support for a joint emergency response. It may also push member states to make more data available, move forward on a region-wide common air-quality indicator and encourage more collaboration within the ASEAN scientific community toward addressing remaining ‘unknowns’ on haze.

Article 5 of the AATHP calls for the establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control to facilitate cooperation on haze pollution arising from land and forest fires. But drawn-out negotiations have delayed its establishment.

The interim functions of such a centre are shared by the ASEAN Secretariat Environment Division and the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC). A dedicated coordinating centre with an independent secretariat could better guide the COP and MSC meetings, support projects in member states to combat forest fires, open burning and peatland management, and coordinate a joint emergency response.

But uncertainty about the role of the ASMC data moving forward remains an issue. The Regional Haze Action Plan 1997 designated the ASMC as the regional centre to monitor and assess land and forest fires and provide early warnings on haze. But the lack of consensus over member states’ meteorological datasets has led to disputes over the validity of ASMC data. To prevent this from delaying the operationalisation of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre, the proposed panel could temporarily take on the ASMC’s regional haze monitoring and assessment role.

The 2016 ASEAN roadmap on transboundary haze presented a vision of a haze-free ASEAN by 2020. While there was localised haze in 2020, wetter La Niña conditions and depressed economic activity prevented a serious transboundary event. But limited advancements on the ground and at the ASEAN level cast doubt on whether the roadmap has achieved its goal.

Mechanisms already exist through which ASEAN can depoliticise science and achieve more effective haze mitigation. Supporting scientific and technical research programmes and establishing an ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control will help allay some of the diplomatic concerns among ASEAN member states and encourage them to better manage their region’s haze problem.

Jayaprakash Murulitharan is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge.

Matthew Ashfold is Head of the School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Nottingham Malaysia.


Mae Hong Son’s Phak Wan Pa hit by wildfires

By: National| January 14th, 2021


Mae Hong Son Governor Sithichai Jindaluang, accompanied by the Pai district village headman and local government officials, inspected the district on Wednesday after a series of wildfires there after 155 heat points were detected and the River Fire Control Station was called in to tackle several blazes.