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.

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Commentary: Little smoke this haze season – but fires rage on in Indonesia

Kiki Taufik is Global Head of Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s forest campaign | November 15th, 2020

 

Much of the destruction to Indonesia’s forests and peatlands have taken place behind the veil of COVID-19 restrictions, says Greenpeace’s Kiki Taufik.

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The Burning Issue: Fighting Forest Fires With Technology

BY :TIUR RUMONDANG | OCTOBER 09, 2020   Many living in Southeast Asia – and even…

ASEAN cooperation to address transboundary haze amid pandemic

By: Kung Phoak | July 20th, 2020

 

ASEAN – Forest fires are a major source of transboundary haze in the ASEAN region. It is particularly pronounced in the dry season during the first half of the year for the Mekong subregion and second half of the year, most notably from July to September, for the southern ASEAN region.

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COVID-19 Adding to Challenge Posed by Forest Fires

Translator: Antara, Editor: Petir Garda Bhwana | June 28th, 2020 TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – With Indonesia still in the grip…

Coronavirus cuts force Indonesia to scale back forest protection

By: | June 25th, 2020

SINGAPORE – JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia has scaled back protection for some of the world’s most important tropical forests ahead of the worst season for fires because of budget cuts due to the coronavirus, the environment ministry said.

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Riau, South Sumatra issue wildfire emergency alert ahead of dry season’s peak

By: News Desk, The Jakarta Post Jakarta   |   July 2nd, 2020

Two provinces, Riau and South Sumatra, have declared an emergency alert status for land and forest fires as the regions enter the peak of this year’s dry season.

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Khao Yai bushfires extinguished

Bangkok Post | 14 Jan 2020

NAKHON RATCHASIMA: Forest fires which have been burning in parts of Khao Yai National Park since early this month are reported to have been finally put out.

The bushfires were first reported on Jan 5 by national park officials in Khao Siad-a, Khao Ang Hin and Khao Nok Yung forest reserves near Ban Nong Yang in tambon Phayayen of Pak Chong district. They were believed to have started about five days previously.

Crews from several stations in the national park were mobilised to combat the blazes.

The last flames were extinguished about noon on Monday, according to a local media report.

An investigation is underway into the cause of the fires.

Link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1835439/khao-yai-bushfires-extinguished

State governments, local authorities, land owners told to prevent forest fire

Malaymail | Tuesday, 14 Jan 2020

 

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — State governments, local authorities and land owners are advised to take appropriate measures to prevent forest fire.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry (KATS), in a statement, said they should also take steps to prevent irresponsible quarters from trespassing into their property, such as landfills, forest areas, plantations, farms, as well as agriculture and industrial areas to carry out open burning.

“Due to the dry weather condition that is expected in the peninsula, all quarters are also advised not to carry out open burning or to allow their land or premises to be encroached upon resulting in open burning accidentally or for a certain reason,” it said.

It said the ministry, through the Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department, is always aware of forest fires, especially if they occurred in the Permanent Forest Reserve area.

Several preventive and control measures against forest fire in the peninsula have been taken, including with the collaboration of the Malaysian Space Agency (MySA) and the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET Malaysia) to obtain updates on hot spot and fire risk areas.

The Forestry Department is also working with the Department of Minerals and Geoscience to build tube wells and “check dams” in areas with risks of catching forest fire.

To date, 85 tubes have been built in the peninsula, it said, adding that monitoring towers were also built in areas with potential to catch forest fire and fire-fighting equipment ready for use in forest fire fighting operations.

According to KATS, the forest fire in Australia should make all quarters realise the need to take appropriate action in improving environmental protection and addressing the growing threats to the ecosystem due to climate change.

Among the impact of forest fires on the environment are destruction to natural habitat, haze phenomena, health problems and loss of the forest biological diversity, it said. — Bernama

Link: https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/01/14/state-governments-local-authorities-land-owners-told-to-prevent-forest-fire/1828000

Sparking debate over fire use on agricultural land in Indonesia

Sparking debate over fire use on agricultural land in Indonesia

ANGGRITA CAHYANINGTYAS | Monday, 26 Nov 2018

New peatlands research center aims to reshape conservation efforts

Indonesia “I can keep my land fertile and I’m able to work regardless of the season, but my neighbor who uses the burning method has difficulties during the rains because their land becomes a swamp,” said Akhmad (Taman) Tamanuruddin, addressing delegates at the launch of a new peatland research center in Indonesia.

Taman is a farmer in Palangka Raya, the capital of Indonesia’s province of Central Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. He rejects the traditional local practice of using fire to clear residue from the fertile peatlands before planting his crops.

Instead, he applies herbicides and lets the old vegetation die off and decompose, allowing it to become a natural fertilizer.

Traditional burning practices are under scrutiny by scientists and policymakers because peatlands are effective carbon sinks. They are made up of layers of decomposed organic material built up over thousands of years. When they burn, warming gases are released into the atmosphere exacerbating climate change. Fires often burn out of control, damaging vast areas and drying out the land, rendering it useless for farming.

In 2015, the impact of wildfires was far-reaching. Fire destroyed more than 2.6 million hectares of land — an area 4.5 times the size of the Indonesian island of Bali, according to the World Bank. The price tag for the damage was more than $16 billion, the bank said.

Indonesia has since boosted efforts to ban the use of fire to clear forested peatlands to plant oil palms, maize or rice by establishing the Peatland Restoration Agency in 2016.

Legislation banning fire use to clear land was introduced in 2009 and 2014.

Research compiled in Riau province by Indonesia’s Forestry and Environment Research, Development and Innovation Agency (FOERDIA) of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF) shows that land prepared by burning vegetation before planting is more productive. They examined peatlands cultivated for oil palm, rubber, corn, rice, and other food crops.

Oil palm yield in burned peatlands was found to be almost 30 percent greater than in those that were not, producing yields of about 13.3 tons per hectare a year. In peatlands that were not burned, yield was only 9.4 tons per hectare a year. Rubber tree yields were found to decrease on average by 46 percent if the land was not burned. Corn yield disparities were even more extreme.

Burning resulted in higher soil fertility in the peatlands. It also reduced acidity, contributing to the higher yields.

Aware of the yield benefits, many farmers involved in the study disregarded prohibitive legislation and burned off their fields. Of the study participants, only 49.3 percent stopped the practice, while 45.2 percent of respondents continued and 5.5 percent said they would give up on farming as they did not see any alternative to burning.

“Some farmers are unwilling to cultivate corn without burning since the yield will drop sharply and produce only a third or a quarter,” said Murniati, a scientist with FOERDIA.

“They were afraid to use the burning techniques but they don’t have enough money to finance the no-burning techniques,” Murniati added, explaining that farmers are scared of incurring penalties for violating anti-burning laws but feel they have no choice but to face the risk.

SEEKING ALTERNATIVES

Since he got involved in sustainable agriculture, Taman has trained hundreds of farmers.  He adds fertile soil, dolomite, and manure to his land and plants a variety of crops, including corn, chili, and vegetables.

Initially, the cost of farming in this manner may seem more expensive, but over the long term it saves him money, Taman said, explaining the environmental benefits.

Although burning more resistant vegetation is a less expensive and easier solution, it can strip nutrient levels in the soil and spoil the peatlands in the long run.

As farmers, we need more support for infrastructure to lower costs, Taman said.

“We at least need proper roads and bridges in our village to cut distribution expenses,” he added. “It can help us big time.”

Currently, poor infrastructure causes high costs for herbicides and harvested crops. Farmers are forced to rent cars to cover a short 250-meter distance because trucks cannot fit into narrow roadways.

Finding other livelihood options might be key for helping local communities thrive while conserving peatlands, according to Dede Rohadi and Herry Purnomo, scientists with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) currently working with MOEF and several partners.

The Haze Free Sustainable Livelihoods project led by CIFOR, MOEF and the University of Lancang in Riau aims to find alternatives for farmers who cultivate crops in the province.

“We try to empower communities so they can maximize the existing livelihood potentials in their village,” said Rohadi, who leads the project.

Some villages already cultivate honey, develop fisheries and grow food crops such as chili peppers and pineapples.

In addition to the Haze-free Sustainable Livelihood project, CIFOR is currently coordinating the Community-based Fire Prevention and Peatland Restoration project with Riau University, local government, communities, and the private sector.

The latest commitment from the governments of Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo, to establish the International Tropical Peatland Center (ITPC) promise for peatland preservation efforts. ITPC is currently based at CIFOR in Bogor, near Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.

It provides valuable opportunities for cooperation in the global south to ensure policymakers, practitioners, and communities have access to trustworthy information, analyses, and the tools needed to conserve and sustainably manage tropical peatlands.

Although peatlands extend over only 3 percent of the world’s land mass, they contain as much carbon as all terrestrial biomass and twice as much as all forest biomass.

About 15 percent of known peatlands have already been destroyed or degraded.