Thailand’s North choking on toxic haze from fires

Thailand’s North choking on toxic haze from fires

Fire burns almost 1,700 hectares of land, forests in Riau as haze spreads

Fire burns almost 1,700 hectares of land, forests in Riau as haze spreads

PUBLISHED MAR 10, 2019, 8:42 PM SGT

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – A forest fire in Indonesia’s Riau province that has been burning for more than a week has expanded as haze spreads to more cities in the area.

The Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD Riau) revealed that, as of Sunday (March 10), the fire had spread across nearly 1,700 hectares of land from a little over 1,100 ha on Feb 28, causing smoke in Pekanbaru and Dumai.

BPBD Riau acting head Ahmadsyah Harrofie said Bengkalis regency was currently the worst affected area, as quoted by tempo.co.

Forest fires are still spreading throughout Dumai, Meranti Islands and five other regencies. Ahmadsyah said the agency’s task force was continuing its attempt to extinguish fires in all areas.

Riau Forest Rescue Network (Jikalahari) coordinator Made Ali added that 63 out of 139 hot spots this week could potentially further ignite a fire.

However, he said that the air condition in Pekanbaru remained “good”.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the air pollution standard index (ISPU) in Pekanbaru and Dumai is still at an “acceptable” level.

Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/fire-burns-almost-1700-hectares-of-land-forests-in-riau-as-haze-spreads

Of the world’s 100 most polluted cities, 99 are in Asia

Of the world’s 100 most polluted cities, 99 are in Asia

The world’s filthiest air is in India, but weighted by population it’s worse in Bangladesh. China’s notoriously unbreathable air is improving, while Jakarta is in danger of out-smogging Beijing, data from air monitoring stations all over the world has revealed.

Of the 100 most polluted cities in the world in 2018, 99 were in Asia, according to a global report on annual air pollution levels by Beijing-based monitoring firm AirVisual and environmental group Greenpeace published on Thursday.

Half of the world’s 50 most polluted cities are in India, and 22 are in China, with Pakistani and Bangladeshi cities making up the rest. In the top 100 smoggiest cities, 33 are in India, and 57 are in China.

The world’s largest country, however, has seen improvements in air quality in 33 of its dirtiest cities, thanks to emissions regulations and extensive air quality monitoring. Another 24 Chinese cities saw smoggier skies in 2018.

Eleven Indian cities in the top 100 have welcomed cleaner skies this year, while air quality has become smoggier in eight of them, where a cocktail of bad air from traffic, industry, and agricultural and waste burning contributes to the haze.

However, 14 of India’s most polluted cities had no data for 2017.

Gurgaon, also known as Gurugram, a city southwest of India’s capital, New Delhi, has the world’s most polluted air, with the annual average level of PM2.5—small particles considered the most dangerous to human health—more than 13 times higher than the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) air quality guidelines of 10μg/m3.

Average concentrations of pollution in Chinese cities fell by 12 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Yan Boquillod, director of air quality monitoring at AirVisual, told Eco-Business that the report’s standout air quality performer was China’s capital.

“Beijing has seen a dramatic drop in air pollution in recent years, particularly in the winter months, largely as a result of factory closures,” he said.

Beijing has seen PM2.5 levels drop from ‘unhealthy’ to the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ between 2017 and 2018.

Four years ago, an air quality reading of around 200 µg/m³ was accepted as “normal” in Beijing, noted Boquillod, who is based in Beijing. In 2018, pollution dropped to roughly a fifth of that level.

However, Beijing air is still almost six times over WHO’s guidelines, and in February this year saw PM2.5 levels climb to a five-year high, up 28 percent year on year.

Hold your breath, you’re in Jakarta

In Southeast Asia, Jakarta registered the most polluted air in the sub-region last year. The Indonesian capital saw air quality worsen by 53 percent in a year, one of the biggest drops in a report that covered 3,000 cites all over the world.

Jakarta’s 2018 pollution levels, four and half times over WHO’s a target, were just 12 percent lower than in Beijing’s. The city, which has more coal-fired power stations near it than any capital city in the world and notoriously bad road congestion, hosted the Asian Games in 2018, and athletes collapsed due to the smog.

Hanoi, in the industrial north of Vietnam, is Southeast Asia’s second most polluted city, while three out of the five most polluted places in Southeast Asia are in Thailand.

A map of India and Southeast Asia’s air quality from AirVisual Earth on 7 March 2018. Warmer colors indicate heavier air pollution. In Sumatra, air pollution is a result of forest fires.

Yeb Sano, the executive director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said that burning fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—was the most common culprit of global air pollution, which results in an estimated seven million premature deaths and costs the world’s economy US$225 billion a year.

A ranking of countries by air pollution. Source: AirVisual

Sano pointed out that climate change was making air pollution worse, by changing atmospheric conditions and exacerbating forest fires.

“Local and national governments can help tackle the effects of air pollution by providing adequate monitoring and reporting infrastructure,” Sano noted.

“What we need to see is our leaders thinking seriously about our health and the climate by looking at a fair transition out of fossil fuels while telling us clearly the level of our air quality, so that steps can be taken to tackle this health and climate crisis,” he said.

Link: https://www.eco-business.com/news/of-the-worlds-100-most-polluted-cities-99-are-in-asia/

South Asia has four most polluted countries

South Asia has four most polluted countries

Bangladesh, Pakistan and India rate badly; Jakarta and Hanoi were SE Asia’s most polluted cities in 2018

MARCH 5, 2019 By ASIA TIMES STAFF

South Asia is home to the world’s four most polluted countries – Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan – and the region also has 18 of the top 20 most polluted cities.

Greenpeace released the latest air pollution data today with a warning that seven million people will die around the world over the next year because of air pollution. The economic cost is also tipped to be enormous: US$225 billion in lost labor and “trillions” in medical costs.

The latest data compiled in the IQAir AirVisual 2018 World Air Quality Report and interactive World’s most polluted cities ranking, prepared in collaboration with Greenpeace Southeast Asia, reveals levels of particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air in cities and countries in 2018.

The positive news was that air quality in Beijing has got better. Average concentrations in cities in China fell by 12% from 2017 to 2018, and Beijing was the 122nd most polluted city in the world last year. However, the number of Chinese cities with high pollution is still substantial.

Jakarta and Hanoi were the two most polluted cities in Southeast Asia, and Jakarta could soon overtake Beijing in the rankings.

In other parts of the world, 10 cities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Kosovo, plus four in Turkey had PM2.5 levels that were three times greater than the World Health Organization guidelines.

Climate change impact

Air quality in cities in the US and Canada were made dramatically worse by historic wildfires between August and November. This showed that “climate change is making the effects of air pollution worse by changing atmospheric conditions and amplifying forest fires,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

“The key driver of climate change – burning fossil fuels – is also the main driver of air pollution, globally. Therefore, tackling climate change will also greatly improve our air quality,” it said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of people in Africa and South America were left in the dark because they do not have adequate equipment to monitor air quality.

Frank Hammes, the head of IQAir, said: “The 2018 World Air Quality Report is based on .. data from tens of thousands of air quality monitoring stations around the world.

“Now everyone with a cellphone has free access to this data via the AirVisual platform. This has also created a demand for air quality monitoring in cities or regions where no public data is available. Communities and organizations from California to Kabul are supplementing governmental monitoring efforts with their own low-cost air quality monitoring networks, and are giving everyone access to more hyper-local information.”

‘Trillions in medical costs’

The executive director of Greenpeace South East Asia, Yeb Sano, said: “Air pollution steals our livelihoods and our futures, but we can change that. In addition to human lives lost, there’s an estimated global cost of $225 billion in lost labor and trillions in medical costs. This has enormous impacts, on our health and on our wallets.

“We want this report to make people think about the air we breathe because when we understand the impacts of air quality on our lives, we will act to protect what’s most important.”

“The common culprit across the globe is the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – worsened by the cutting down our forests,” Sano said. “What we need to see is our leaders thinking seriously about our health and the climate by looking at a fair transition out of fossil fuels while telling us clearly the level of our air quality, so that steps can be taken to tackle this health and climate crisis.”

Link: https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/03/article/south-asia-has-four-most-polluted-countries/

Forest Fires in Indonesia a Decade Ago May Have Stunted The Growth of Children Today

Forest Fires in Indonesia a Decade Ago May Have Stunted The Growth of Children Today CARLY…

Smog returns to Bangkok

Smog returns to Bangkok

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.

Link: https://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/society/213964/fire-destroys-8-000sq-m-of-forest.html

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.

Link: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/12/5/18126145/indonesia-climate-change-deforestation

Scientists determine cause behind huge Asian smoke cloud

Scientists determine the cause behind huge Asian smoke cloud

NOV 28, 2018 10:43 AM PST | WRITTEN BY Kathryn DeMuth Sullivan

New research published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presents surprising findings concerning the origins of the smoke cloud that hung over Southeast Asia for several months in 2015. The smoke, which came from wildfires that spread throughout Indonesia in 2016 due to a severe El Nino-driven drought, stayed clouding the region throughout the summer and fall of 2015. Scientists have now determined that the smoke contained carbon from plants that were alive during the Middle Ages, as a result of the burning of ancient peat.

“Our research shows that almost all of the smoke emissions originated from the burning of Holocene-aged peat,” said first author Elizabeth Wiggins, a postdoctoral research fellow at NASA’s Langley Research Center. “Although this peat has functioned as a massive terrestrial carbon storage reservoir over the last several thousand years, it is now a significant source of carbon to the atmosphere.”

The researchers were able to determine the origin of the smoke through isotope dating of smoke particles’ carbon atoms. After determining that the average particle was as old as 800 years, the scientists cross-analyzed the data with models of the wind-driven movement of smoke plumes and were able to pinpoint that the smoke came from burning peat on Borneo and Sumatra of Indonesia.

“These are the first direct measurements showing the smoke originated from the combustion of peat layers that are hundreds to thousands of years old,” said study co-author James Randerson. “Farmers drain the peats because waterlogged soils are bad for growing oil palms and other crops, and they seek to burn off surface layers to get to the mineral soil below.”

Peatlands are some of the most effective carbon sinks, holding more carbon all of the living biomass of the Amazon rainforest. The release of this huge amount of carbon into the atmosphere has grim consequences for the world as a whole, not just the orangutans and Sumatran tigers that lost their habitat.

The authors want to drive home one specific point from their findings: “This was all human-driven,” Randerson said. “Such fires help a small part of the population, but the costs for people far away in other cities in the region are enormous.” In order to preserve peatlands and thus keep huge quantities of carbon out of the atmosphere, we must find another way to pursue agriculture. Burning is no longer an option. “We need to identify more sustainable agricultural solutions in which we preserve tropical forests and peatlands to maintain all of these benefits while at the same time enhancing food security,” co-author Claudia Czimczik said.

Link: https://www.labroots.com/trending/earth-and-the-environment/13392/scientists-determine-cause-huge-asian-smoke-cloud

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.