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).


Ten million riel reward for forest arsonists

The Phnom Penh Post | Khouth Sophak Chakrya |  24 January 2020


The Siem Reap provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said it will offer a 10 million riel ($2,500) reward to those who provide information regarding the suspects responsible for setting ablaze more than 20ha of kranhuong timber forest land in Banteay Srei district.

Department director Tea Kimsoth told The Post on Thursday that more than 20ha of kranhuong timber forest were secretly set on fire on Tuesday evening to lay illegal ownership of the land.

“Our specialist, as well as local authorities and residents in the communities, had been working to protect this forest since 2012. But offenders had burned the land in a blink of an eye.

“I will reward 10 million riel to anyone who can point us to the suspects,” he said.

Banteay Srei district deputy police chief Ros Sisovanna told The Post on Thursday that last year, more than 200ha of the kranhuong forests were completely cleared through burning. However, the culprits responsible had not yet been identified.

“In the case of this forest fire, we suspect that villagers who have houses and agricultural land near the area burned it secretly so that they could encroach on it.

“They must have wanted to expand their agricultural land, but we still have no evidence to present against them,” he said.

Seng Lorn, the chief of the Forestry Administration in the commune who led the operation to extinguish the fire on Tuesday, told The Post that authorities could not immediately gain access to the land due to the lack of roads in the area.

“We spent more than three hours to put out the flames. Because of the hot weather and the shortage in water supply, we don’t expect the burned kranhuong trees to recover until the rainy season,” he said.

Provincial Forestry Administration chief Mong Bunlim said the kranhuong timber forest area in the district covered 2,800ha, adding that the unprecedented fire was caused by people.

“Article 97 of the Forestry Law says that any person guilty of starting forest fires on purpose and without authorisation will face five to 10 years imprisonment,” he said.

Bunlim said the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries would gather residents and relevant departments at the beginning of the rainy season to replant kranhuong trees, which, in turn, would restore the forest.


Cambodia, Vietnam to hold joint disaster rescue exercises

| 31 October 2019


The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and the People’s Army of Vietnam will hold joint disaster rescue exercises in further collaborations to “maintain peace, order and stability in the neighbouring countries”.


Blaze destroys 500 hectares of rubber plantation

Blaze destroys 500 hectares of rubber plantation

April 1, 2019

Sen David / Khmer Times

More than 500 hectares of a rubber plantation on Saturday were destroyed in a blaze that spread from a forest fire in Kampong Thom province’s Santuk district.

According to a National Police report yesterday, the forest blaze spread to 530 hectares of the rubber plantation in Ti Por commune.

“Authorities used seven fire trucks to extinguish it and 530 hectares out of 800 hectares of the plantation were destroyed,” it said. “The blaze spread from a nearby forest.”

Thiv Van Thy, provincial Agriculture Department director, yesterday said the rubber plantation belongs to Korean company BNA.

“The company invested in the rubber plantation in that area and 530 hectares of it have been destroyed,” he said.

Neth Pheaktra, spokesman of the Ministry of Environment, yesterday said Cambodia is now suffering from the El Nino weather phenomenon which is causing a hot and dry spell, noting that rains are not forecast for another two months.

He said wildfires, due to human and natural factors, can easily occur because of the hot and dry conditions.

“The main cause of fires is through burning to clear forests for planting crops, resettlement or catching wildlife,” he said.

In January, the ministry issued a forest fire alert over the dry season. It said people must be careful not to burn waste in or around protected forests and local authorities must also prepare contingency plans to fight forest fires to prevent the flames from spreading.

The ministry said that in case of a serious forest fire, the authorities should immediately alert people living nearby and evacuate animals.

“After a forest fire, the authorities must also collaborate with relevant sub-national administrations to prohibit people from inhabiting the cleared areas to allow for regrowth,” it added.

The ministry also reminded people that it is an offense to intentionally cause a fire in a protected area and those caught will be punished according to the law.

It added that it is confident that the public and relevant authorities will heed its warning.


Environment Ministry responds to deforestation claim

Environment Ministry responds to deforestation claim

March 28, 2019

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times


Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday responded to public criticism blaming deforestation as the major factor for high temperatures in the Kingdom.

In response, Mr. Pheaktra said high temperatures are caused by climate change and are also affecting other parts of the world.

“Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases and pollution,” he said. “Please do not think that it is only caused by deforestation because the earth’s temperature can increase due to development in our cities. There are many factors contributing to climate change that should be considered.”

“The Environment Ministry has told other institutions to tell people to save water during the dry season because many sources are drying fast,” Mr. Pheaktra added. “We called on the public to join together to prevent forest fires. We also cooperated with communities by instructing them not to burn rubbish, which contributes to climate change.”

When asked about forest fires, Mr. Pheaktra said when compared to neighboring countries in the region, Cambodia has had 20, noting that Thailand has 100 hotspots, and Laos and Myanmar have 200.

“There has been no report of property damage from forest fires,” he said. “Some farmlands were damaged from forest fires.”

Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandin said the ministry has yet to receive any reports regarding the impact of the heat on the health of citizens.

“We have seen some health effects but that was because the patients were not practising good hygiene,” Ms. Vandin said. “For example rashes, rashes are not caused by the weather. Rashes happen because of a lack of hygiene.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered officials to dig wells and transport water to areas severely hit by shortages of water.

“We can control the situation. The heat has not caused an emergency,” Mr. Siphan said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of farmers in Battambang province’s Banan district are battling drought as their crops wither away.

Has Sarath, a 63-year-old farmer, recently told Khmer Times that times are tough.

“There is a serious shortage of water this year, there has been no rain since the end of October,” Mr. Sarath said. “This pond is almost dry and the water is not enough to sustain villagers because of the extremely hot weather.”

“Because of this, one hectare of crops cannot even yield one sack of rice,” he added.

According to a forecast by the Water Resources and Meteorology Ministry on March 12, temperatures in the Kingdom is expected to increase to up to 42 degrees Celsius in May.

“In April and May, the weather will be extremely hot, and sometimes it will reach 40-42 degrees Celsius, especially in the northwestern low lands and the northern plains,” the ministry said.



Cambodian PM Vows to Shoot Loggers From Helicopters, Again

Cambodian PM Vows to Shoot Loggers From Helicopters, Again

Published: Tuesday, 02 October 2018 16:33

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen promised on Sunday that he would fix his country’s problems with rampant deforestation by shooting those who illegally chop down timber from helicopters.

mondulkiri deforestation
Deforestation in Mondolkiri, Cambodia (CC 4.0)

“It’s correct that we are losing our forests, many are being replaced by rubber plantations,” he said, speaking to members of the Cambodian diaspora in New York.

“I acknowledge that thieves have illegally cut down timber and I am ordering them to be shot from helicopters in the sky.”

Hun Sen made a similar promise two and a half years earlier when he announced that General Sao Sokha, newly appointed as head of a task force to stop illegal logging and timber smuggling, was authorized to fire rockets at loggers from helicopters.

That order came a year after a Global Witness report showed that Hun Sen’s own personal advisor, Try Pheap, headed an illegal logging network that saw millions of dollars of rosewood smuggled to China each year.

Not a shot has been fired from helicopters since that order and the task force did not succeed in halting the flow of luxury timber across Cambodia’s borders to Vietnam.

Hun Sen’s relatives have also long been linked with the country’s illegal timber business.

With hectares of forest falling to loggers and economic land concessions dished out by Cambodia’s ruling party, the country has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation.

Global Witness meanwhile estimates that evictions that have resulted from logging and the government giving land to agribusinesses have displaced 830,000 people, forcing some into squatting in state forests or cutting down timber themselves.

Speaking Sunday, however, Hun Sen emphasized that it was the country’s now-defunct opposition–whose leader is in exile and whose deputy leader is just out of prison–that should be blamed for illegal logging.

“In many cases [the thieves] went to cut down millions of hectares to cultivate farmlands, including groups [affiliated] with the former opposition,” he said.

Source Link:

Future without intact forests?

Future without intact forests?

Despite a decades-long effort to halt deforestation, nearly 10 percent of undisturbed forests have been fragmented, degraded or simply chopped down since 2000, according to the analysis of satellite imagery.

Average daily loss over the first 17 years of this century was more than 200 square kilometers.

“Degradation of intact forest represents a global tragedy, as we are systematically destroying a crucial foundation of climate stability,” said Frances Seymour, a senior distinguished fellow at the World Resources Institute (WRI), and a contributor to the research, presented this week at a conference in Oxford.

“Forests are the only safe, natural, proven and affordable infrastructure we have for capturing and storing carbon.”

The findings come as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and five major conservation organizations launched a five-year plan, Nature4Climate, to better leverage land use in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming.

“Thirty-seven percent of what is needed to stay below two degrees Celsius” – the cornerstone goal of the 196-nation Paris Agreement – “can be provided by land”, said Andrew Steer, WRI president, and CEO. “But only three percent of the public funding for mitigation goes to land and forest issues – that needs to change.”

Beyond climate, the last forest frontiers play a critical role in maintaining biodiversity, weather stability, clean air, and water quality. Some 500 million people worldwide depend directly on forests for their livelihoods.

A future without intact forests?

So-called intact forest landscapes – which can include wetlands and natural grass pastures – are defined as areas of at least 500 square kilometers with no visible evidence in satellite images of large-scale human use.

That means no roads, industrial agriculture, mines, railways, canals or transmission lines.

As of January 2017, there were about 11.6 million square kilometers of forests worldwide that still fit these criteria. From 2014 to 2016, that area declined by more than 87,000 square kilometers each year.

“Many countries may lose all their forest wildlands in the next 15 to 20 years,” Peter Potapov, an associate professor at the University of Maryland and lead scientist for the research, said.

On current trends, intact forests will disappear by 2030 in Paraguay, Laos, and Equatorial Guinea, and by 2040 in Cambodia, the Central African Republic, Nicaragua, Myanmar, and Angola.

“There could come a point in the future where no areas in the world qualify as ‘intact’ anymore,” said Tom Evans, director for forest conservation and climate mitigation at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“It is certainly worrying.”

In tropical countries, the main causes of virgin forest loss are conversion to agriculture and logging. In Canada and the United States, fire is the main culprit, while in Russia and Australia, the destruction has been driven by fires, mining, and energy extraction.
Compared to annual declines during the period 2000-2013, Russia lost, on average, 90 percent more each year from 2014 to 2016. For Indonesia, the increase was 62 percent, and for Brazil, it was 16 percent.

Protected areas

The new results are based on a worldwide analysis of satellite imagery, built on a study first done in 2008 and repeated in 2013.

“The high-resolution data, like the one collected by the Landsat program, allows us to detect human-caused alteration and fragmentation of forest wildlands,” Potapov said.

Presented at the Intact Forests in the 21st Century conference at Oxford University, the finding will be submitted for peer-reviewed publication, said Potapov, who delivered a keynote to the three-day gathering.

Addressing colleagues from around the world, Potapov also challenged the effectiveness of a global voluntary certification system.

Set up in 1994 and backed by green groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, the self-stated mission of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is to “promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests”.

Many forest-products carry the FSC label, designed to reassure eco-conscious consumers.

But approximately half of all intact forest landscapes inside FSC-certified concessions were lost from 2000 to 2016 in Gabon and the Republic of Congo, the new data showed. In Cameroon, about 90 percent of FSC-monitored forest wildlands disappeared.
“FSC is an effective mechanism to fragment and degrade remaining intact forest landscapes, not a tool for their protection,” Potapov said.

National and regional parks have helped to slow the rate of decline.

The chances of forest loss were found to be three times higher outside protected areas than inside them, the researchers reported.

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Cambodia’s military crackdown recalls bloody ‘Kratie insurrection’

Cambodia’s military crackdown recalls bloody ‘Kratie insurrection’ By: Paul Millar and Leng Len – Photography by…

Policemen, protesters hurt in Cambodian land dispute

Policemen, protesters hurt in Cambodian land dispute

At least seven policemen and two protesters were hurt Thursday in a clash after villagers in northeastern Cambodia blocked a national highway to protest being forced off land they have occupied for at least two years.

Officials and NGO workers said about 200 villagers in Kratie province who have been living on land that was given to a concessionaire to develop into a rubber plantation blocked the road for two hours.

Land disputes became a critical issue in Cambodia in the early part of last decade, as great blocs of land were granted as concessions for logging, rubber, and other economic development projects. Violent and sometimes fatal conflicts between villagers, who rarely held formal land titles, and the authorities, acting on behalf of the concession holders, became common to the point that they were considered to be a threat to political stability.

In 2012, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive suspending new land concessions to private companies and ordering a review of existing ones, though it is not clear the order was effectively implemented.

Cambodia tops region for fires detected from space

Cambodia tops region for fires detected from space