There is concern about forest fires on parts of the islands Sumatra and Kalimantan. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said five Indonesian provinces - Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan - declared emergencies as peat-lands are burning and there are risks of fires spreading to nearby regions. Eighteen helicopters have been deployed to combat the fires.
Update COVID-19 in Indonesia: 59,394 confirmed infections, 2,987 deaths (2 July 2020)
2 July 2020 (closed)
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Today's Headlines Deforestation
Riset Perkebunan Nusantara, a state-owned research firm, expects Indonesia's crude palm oil (CPO) production to drop 4.2 percent (y/y) to 32 million tons in 2016. The firm further adds that in 2015 Indonesia had a total of 11.3 million hectares of palm oil plantation, consisting of plantations owned by the state (750,000 hectares), plantations owned by the private sector (5.97 million hectares) and plantations owned by smallholders (4.58 million hectares). The palm oil sector is one of Indonesia's key foreign exchange earners. Indonesia is the world's largest producer and exporter of palm oil, followed by Malaysia.
The ongoing forest fires on parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan, brought about by people's slash-and-burn practices to clear land for palm oil and paper industries, are now labelled a crime against humanity by global media while Indonesia has turned into the world's largest daily carbon dioxide emissions surpassing China and the USA. The severe haze that has been plaguing parts of Southeast Asia brings health problems, economic costs and bad publicity amid a time when most countries are teaming up to combat global warming.
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.
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.
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.
On Wednesday (13/05), Indonesian President Joko Widodo showed his commitment to protect Indonesia’s biodiversity-rich environment as he extended the moratorium on the clearing of primary forest and peat-land by another two years. This moratorium, which had been first implemented by Widodo’s predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in May 2011, aims to combat rapid deforestation in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Furthermore, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry will study how it can further strengthen the moratorium.
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.
Latest Columns Deforestation
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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