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Today's Headlines Forest Fires

  • Haze Update: Malaysia Closes Schools, Urges Indonesia to Act

    Haze Update: Malaysia Closes Schools, Urges Indonesia to Act

    Again schools were ordered to shut (for at least two days) in Malaysia in order to protect children from inhaling smog as the air quality remains at very unhealthy levels (nearly hazardous in some regions). The air pollutant index still shows readings of between 201 to 300 in six districts around Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The haze, which - reportedly - may become the worst haze ever, is caused by companies' and people's illegal slash-and-burn practices to clear land for planting on parts of the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. The situation is exacerbated by the (El Nino-related) prolonged dry season.

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  • Haze Southeast Asia: Singapore Names Indonesian Companies, Malaysia Closes Schools

    Haze Southeast Asia: Singapore Names Indonesian Companies, Malaysia Closes Schools

    While Malaysian authorities ordered more schools to close on Monday, schools in Singapore reopened on the first day of the week as the air quality improved. However, although having improved, the air quality in Singapore remains unhealthy. The pollutant standards index in Singapore was 161 (meaning unhealthy) around 11 am local Singapore time on Monday (improving from a ‘hazardous’ reading of 341 last Friday). Meanwhile, Singapore mentioned five companies as having contributed to the forest fires that are causing the severe haze in Southeast Asia.

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  • Indonesia’s Forest Fires & Haze Plague Singapore and Malaysia

    Indonesia’s Forest Fires & Haze Plague Singapore and Malaysia

    The haze, caused by dozens of forest fires on Sumatra and Kalimantan, and which have spread to Singapore and Malaysia, is expected to plague the three countries in the next couple of days. Indonesian authorities, which are currently investigating forest fires in Central Kalimantan, South Sumatra, Riau, West Kalimantan and Jambi, mentioned that there are 107 people who have been named suspects, involved in 68 acts of slash-and-burn practices (according to Indonesian media).

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  • Indonesia’s ‘Traditional’ Forest Fires & Haze Disrupt Commercial Flights

    Indonesia’s ‘Traditional’ Forest Fires & Haze Disrupt Commercial Flights

    Indonesia and Malaysia are again plagued by a traditional haze caused by forest fires in Palangkaraya (Central Kalimantan). The thick haze resulted in the cancellation of various commercial flights at the local airports in Jambi (Sumatra) and Surabaya (Java). Furthermore, it was reported that in parts of Malaysia an unhealthy air quality was recorded.

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  • El Nino Inflicted Drought & Forest Fires in Indonesia to Worsen in 2015

    El Nino Inflicted Drought & Forest Fires in Indonesia to Worsen in 2015

    Indonesian state news agency Antara reported that the El Nino weather phenomenon has begun to affect several parts of the country. El Nino, which occurs once every five years on average, causes climatic changes across the Pacific Ocean leading to droughts in Southeast Asia and therefore has a major impact on harvests of agricultural commodities. Moreover, due to the shortage of rain, it is easier for fires to damage the environment. Antara reported that in Banten (West Java) as well as in Riau and Jambi (Sumatra) these effects are felt.

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  • Crude Palm Oil (CPO) Update Indonesia: Production Up, Price Down

    Indonesian stockpiles of crude palm oil (CPO) in August 2014 may have reached the highest level in 15 months on increased production and reduced global demand. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, CPO stockpiles in Indonesia surged 24 percent to 2.5 million metric tons in August (from 2.02 million metric tons in the previous month). Meanwhile, Indonesian CPO production grew 19 percent to 2.55 million metric tons, while CPO exports declined 2.2 percent to 1.8 million metric tons. Bloomberg used data from five planters and one refiner.

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  • Damages due to Indonesia's Natural Disasters Estimated at USD $855 Million

    Damages due to Indonesia's Natural Disasters Estimated at USD $855 Million

    Indonesia has been hit by a number of severe natural disasters in the first two months of 2014. The volcanic eruptions of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra (which started late last year but still continues today although having become less active) and Mount Kelud in East Java led to a total of 20 casualties, hundreds of thousands of evacuees and damaged infrastructure and crops. Moreover, due to torrential rains amid a peak of the rainy season, severe floods ravaged a number of Indonesian regions and cities (particularly Jakarta and Manado).

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  • Huge Forest Fires on Sumatra Endanger Singapore's Health and Economy

    Forest fires on the Indonesian island Sumatra have brought severe smog over Singapore's skyline for the past five days, reaching record breaking levels of air pollution in Southeast Asia's wealthy city state. The forest fires are believed to be caused by illegal slash and burn practice on Indonesia's forest-rich island of Sumatra (for palm oil expansion) and represent a recurring problem in the dry season. Besides the environmental disaster, the forest fires cause health issues as well as economic losses for Singapore.

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Latest Columns Forest Fires

  • Environment & Natural Disasters in Indonesia: Forest Fires Season Started

    Environment & Natural Disasters in Indonesia: Forest Fires Season Started

    A year ago - between June and October 2015 - severe man-made forest fires on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan released some 11.3 million tons of carbon per day, caused Indonesia to experience damages estimated at 1.9 percent of GDP (World Bank estimate), and spread toxic haze to other parts of Southeast Asia. Not only its regional neighbors but most of the world directed its anger at Indonesian authorities that failed to combat the fires, and more importantly, failed to uphold laws that forbid the slash-and-burn practice.

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  • Widodo Wants Moratorium on New Palm Oil Concessions in Indonesia

    Widodo Wants Moratorium on New Palm Oil Concessions in Indonesia

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered the nation's Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya to issue a moratorium on new palm oil concessions in a number of provinces. Although Widodo wants Indonesia - the world's top producer and exporter of crude palm oil (CPO) - to raise CPO output, he believes this increase can be achieved by increasing productivity of existing palm oil plantations, not by adding new plantations. Indonesia is often criticized by environmentalist groups for its forestry policies and poor law enforcement (which led to the severe haze that spread through Southeast Asia last year).

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  • Forest Fires & Haze: Link between Indonesia's Local Elections and Fires

    Forest Fires & Haze: Link between Indonesia's Local Elections and Fires

    With the forest fires still raging on parts of the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, damaging the tropical environment, while the toxic haze still spreads to other parts of Southeast Asia, having caused an estimated 500,000 cases of respiratory tract infection as well as 19 casualties, the ongoing disaster has been labelled a crime against humanity. A new and interesting research report, released by Dr. Herry Purnomo (scientist at the Bogor-based Center for International Forestry Research), points to a link between local elections and spikes in Indonesian forest fires.

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  • Crude Palm Oil (CPO) Update Indonesia: El Nino to Impact on Production?

    Crude Palm Oil (CPO) Update Indonesia: El Nino to Impact on Production?

    Crude palm oil (CPO) output in Indonesia, the world’s largest CPO producer and exporter, may decline by 20 percent to 27.5 million tons in 2016 due to the negative impact of the El Nino weather phenomenon. On a positive note, declining CPO output in Indonesia could provide some support for benchmark Malaysian palm prices that fell to a 6.5-year low of 1,836 ringgit last week.

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