Forest fire news 2012


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Forest fire news 2012

  1. 1. 260 Hot Spots Detected in Sumatra,Reducing Visibility in Some Areas
The Jakarta Globe | September 04, 2012A number of motorcists slow down when crossing Sudirman Street at Sampit inEast Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan, because of limited visibility due to thesmoke-covered forest and land on Monday. (AFP Photo/Lucky Striawan)The Padang chapter of the Meteorology, Climatology and GeophysicsAgency has detected 260 hot spots in Sumatra, mostly in the lower halfof the island, in Jambi, South Sumatra and Lampung, a report said onMonday. 
The Central Kalimantan forestry office also confirmed severalforest fires in a number of districts in the province, creating thick smokethat was blown to nearby cities, as the dry season continues inIndonesia. 
The condition has prompted concerns that the smoke couldblow toward neighboring countries, especially Singapore and Malaysia,which would cause rebukes across the region. 
“The hot spots havecaused several areas in Sumatra to be blanketed by smoke, includingWest Sumatra,” Antara news agency quoted Neli Elfira, a weatheranalyst at the Padang office of the agency known as BMKG, assaying. 
Neli said that most of the hot spots were in Jambi and Lampung.But BMKG was not certain how they started, whether caused by fire indry forests or by land clearing from farmers or plantation companiesdespite an official ban on using the slash-and-burn method. 
The analystsaid that dry winds from Australia will continue to head to the Asian   1  
  2. 2. mainland in the next few days. There would be no let-off and only raincould reduce the number of hot spots, she said. 
“In a climatic conditionthat is hot and dry, forest fires can erupt easily and therefore people areasked to be more alert,” Neli said. 
She said that the smoke is reducingvisibility in many areas to just 7 to 10 kilometers, even though the figurewas still safe for aviation. 
Although banned, land clearing via burningbefore the new planting season is still being practiced in the face of weaklaw enforcement. 
“We hope the hot spots can decrease and the winddoes not blow too strong so that we don’t have to export smoke to ourneighboring countries,” said Neli. 
In Sampit, Central Kalimantan, theForestry Ministry office said that it detected 87 hot spots in the districtalone. 
“Satellite observation by the National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration has detected 87 hot spots in August and September,” saidAndreas Dody, head of data management at the office. 
He expressedfear that the number of hot spots on the island will continue to increase inSeptember as people clear lands using fire during the dry season. 
Forestfires in Sumatra and Kalimantan over the past week have brought toSingapore’s northern areas a “moderate” Pollutant Standards Indexreading of 53 as of 4 p.m. on Monday. 
On the PSI, an air-qualitymeasurement, a reading of zero to 50 is “good.” Anything above 100 isconsidered “unhealthy.” 
Last week, the poor air quality was noted only inthe northern part of Singapore however. Other areas of the islandrecorded readings of 33 to 41. 
Earlier this month, haze from hot spots inSumatra had also affected Malaysia. The air quality was rated asunhealthy in Perak and Selangor.Source;   2  
  3. 3. Forest Fires Continue to Ravage Eastand Central Java
 SP/Nanda Aries | October 01, 2012Forest fires that have razed the Arjuno Mountain in East Java during the pastmonth have burned hundreds of hectares of forest land in the Pasuruan andMalang districts. The blazes have now spread to Batu city and the Mojokertodistrict. 
New hotspots were detected in Block Nggabes, forest areas inTulungrejo and Giripuro, and villages in the Bumiaji subdistrict in KotaBatu. 
Gatot Sundoro, the head of the R. Soerjo Forest Park Malang-Pasuruan division, told reporters that the fires have burned an estimated 800hectares of forest in Pasuruan, Malang, Kota Batu and Mojokerto. Some ofthe fires in Lawang and Pasuruan have started to diminish but some havealso spread, moving westward and southward. 
Gatot said that he and hismen were having difficulties containing the fires that were spreading to thetouristic city of Batu due to visibility problems from the thick smoke. He addedthat he could only pray that the fire in Nggabes doesn’t spreadfarther. 
Meanwhile, fires also burned 2.5 hectares of teak forest in PemangkuHutan Resort (RPH) in Malang from Thursday night until Friday. The forest islocated next to Jalan Raya Karangkates, the border of the districts of Malangand Blitar. The forest fire is believed to have stemmed from a fire that wasintentionally lit by an irresponsible person in the area. 
“It seems likesomebody had intentionally [set] fire to the bushes near the road,” said AgusSalim, head of the RPH Sukowilangun, on Friday night. 
Although there wereno casualties or material losses caused by the fire, the condition of the teaktrees worsened. 
“The land that got burned had actually been given fertilizer.[The fire] is causing the land’s contour and fertility [to] become [limited].” hesaid. 
RPH officers were forced to contain the fire manually using treebranches. 
“It’s difficult to extinguish it with water. The way to do it is by hittingit with branches,” Agus said. He was relieved that he and his men were ableto extinguish the fire by midday on Friday. 
Meanwhile, in Karanganyar,Central Java, more than 500 hectares of forests and tree nurseries burned onthe slopes of Mount Lawu. 
Aji Pratama, head of the Karanganyar DisasterMitigation Agency, said the extremely dry conditions and strong winds helpedto spread the fires and made it difficult for firefighters to douse them. 
“It’s notjust the brush and shrubs that are getting burned, but also trees, especiallypines,” he said.(Source:   3  
  4. 4. Five ASEAN Nations Agree To MonitorFires, Smoke
Jakarta Globe | November 01, 2012Ministers and vice ministers from five of the 10 member states of theAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations on Wednesday agreed to form atechnical task force to develop a ground and forest fire monitoring platform atthe ministerial steering committee level. 
The agreement was reached duringthe 14th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC)on Transboundary Haze Pollution held in Bali on Wednesday, an Aseanstatement said. 
“The Ministers agreed to the proposal for the formation of anMSC Technical Task Force to develop a fire monitoring platform,” thestatement said. 
The meeting was attended by environment ministers fromBrunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and the vice-minister of naturalresources and environment from Thailand. 
The meeting noted that the onset ofthe traditional rainy season around late November or early December will in alllikelihood put an end to, or greatly reduce, hot spot activity. 
Hot spots areareas of high temperatures shown through satellite imaging, that haveincreased potential to ignite into ground and forest fires. 
“The MSC countriesagreed to maintain vigilance and to continue the subregion’s strongcommitment and steady progress toward tackling land and forest fires, andminimizing the spread of transboundary smoke haze,” the statement said. 
Theministers also agreed to explore the sharing of digital concession maps, asthey acknowledged that greater transparency is required to make plantationcompanies and land owners responsible for the haze. 
The owners need to beheld accountable and work to employ the best management practices in landclearing activities, the statement said. 
They also agreed to undertake morestringent measures to prevent such problems, while instituting enforcementmeasures against offenders. 
Extensive ground and forest fires — especially onSumatra and Borneo — during the dry season have resulted in serious airpollution in the region. 
Several times in the past, the smoky pollution hasblanketed the sky over a large swath of area in Southeast Asia, causing trafficand health hazards. 
Governments have blamed the continuing practice of landclearing by burning for most of the haze, although burning peat veins in the soilis also seen as a contributing factor to the smoke. 
Indonesia has outlawed landclearing by fire, but enforcement has been weak in the face of inadequatemanpower and finances. 
The meeting concluded that Thailand will chair theMSC in 2013.   4  
  5. 5. Source: Sumatra Fires Create Breathing Problems 
SP/Usmin & Radesman Saragih | October 01, 2012 Forests and brush are vulnerable to fires this year because of the lack of rain. (EPA Photo/Paul Hilton) Almost 2,000 people in Bengkulu and Jambi are suffering from breathing problems after both provinces experienced a series of forest fires for more than a month, officials said over the weekend. 
Bengkulu city health agency chief Mixon Syahbudin said the number of people suffering from respiratory ailments, known as ISPA, continues to rise because of a fire- induced smoky haze that has settled into the western part of Sumatra. 
“If rain does not fall in Bengkulu in October, the number of people with ISPA in the area will rise,” Mixon said. “This is happening because the air quality in Bengkulu is getting worse and the haze is getting thicker.” 
Mixon said his office has treated more than 400 people with respiratory problems. Sixty percent of those affected are children while the remainder are elderly people. 
“We hope the rain will come soon so that the haze covering this area will diminish and the air quality will return to normal,” he said. 
Meanwhile, in Jambi, the local health agency has recorded more than 1,400 people with ISPA in the capital alone since the   5  
  6. 6. start of September. At the provincial level, the figure has exceeded 3,000people. 
“The air pollution caused by the haze during the drought hascaused many to suffer ISPA,” said Jambi city health agency chiefPolisman Sitanggang. The people affected by ISPA are mostly childrenand the elderly.” 
Polisman added that his office distributing 10,000masks over the last few days as the forest fires continue to spread andhaze thickens. 
The Ministry of Forestry recently said that it counted24,663 hot spots — areas of high temperature indicating forest or brushfires — this year, with Sumatra and Kalimantan having the most,because of drought and land clearing by fire. 
The forest fires have alsoforced several airlines to cut down the number of flights to Jambibecause of poor visibility. 
“The flight schedule from Jambi to Jakarta, andJakarta to Jambi has been reduced,” said Rudi Iriandi, marketingmanager at the Jambi office of flag carrier Garuda Indonesia. “We havecanceled all of our morning flights because Sultan Thaha Syaifuddinairport in Jambi cannot operate because of the haze. 
“We have beencanceling flights dozens of times over the last three weeks. Thecancellations have cost the company a lot of money.” 
Visibility early inthe morning at the airport has been limited to 500 meters, preventingplanes from landing. Planes have only been able to land and take offafter 8:30 a.m., when the haze partially clears. 
Separately, SamsulBandri, chief of the Fatmawati Airport in Bengkulu, said the haze in theprovince had not forced any flight cancelations. He added that visibility inthat area is still acceptable to most pilots. But Samsul warned that thehaze is thickening and could force flights to be canceled if the firescontinue.   6  
  7. 7. Haze Forces Garuda FlightSuspensions, Disruptions in SeveralAirports
September 29, 2012A plane glides through a haze of smoke on the runway of Polonia InternationalAirport in Medan, North Sumatra, in this August 2012 photo. Similarly thickhaze has wreaked havoc on flight to and from Jambi in Sumatra. (AntaraPhoto/Septianda Perdana)Jambi. Garuda Indonesia has suspended morning flights to and fromJambi as a blanket of smoke continued to shroud the Sumatrancity. 
Garuda has suspended its morning flights GA 130 from Jambi toJakarta, and GA 131 from Jakarta to Jambi, according to Alzog, theoperations manager of Sultan Thaha Syaifuddin airport in Jambi, whospoke to the media on Saturday. 
Rudi Iriandi, sales and marketing officerat Garuda Indonesias branch office in Jambi, said the morning flightsuspension is to continue until October 7. 
"Only two flights arepostponed. Meanwhile, the flight schedules for GA 132, GA 133, GA134, and GA 135 remain unchanged," he said. 
A blanket of smoke hasalso disrupted flights in other areas in the country. 
In Banjarmasin,capital of South Kalimantan province, six flights had to be postponed   7  
  8. 8. from the citys Syamsudin Noor airport on Saturday due to the smog, anofficial of state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I said. 
"You cant seemore than five meters away, so it is not possible for an aircraft to takeoff," Haruman said. 
The smog was believed to be coming from forest orbush fires in undeveloped lands following the long drought. 
Further, LionAir had to delay three flights, including those to Jakarta, Surabaya andYogyakarta, and Garuda Indonesia, Sriwijaya Air and Batavia Air eachhad to postpone take offs to Jakarta. 
"They have to wait for the haze todissipate and the line of vision to clear to at least 400 meters beforeplanning take offs," Haruman said. 
"The clouds this morning are theworst ever crippling the airport operations," he said, adding we have hadhazes before but never caused a delay in take off." Antara 
Source:   8  
  9. 9. Sumatra Hot Spot Count Highest inYears
September 27, 2012Bangkok. The number of hot spots recorded in Sumatra so far this yearis at its highest level in many years, Vivian Balakrishnan, SingaporesMinister for the Environment and Water Resources, said at a regionalmeeting.

Balakrishnans observation was shared by a number of otherAsean ministers at the Asean ministerial meeting on the environmentand related matters in Bangkok on Wednesday.

Figures show the hotspot count for this year has exceeded that for 2006, the last year inwhich Singapore experienced a prolonged haze.

Delegates attending themeeting urged Indonesia to ratify the Asean Agreement onTransboundary Haze Pollution as soon as possible, a statement issuedby the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in Singaporesaid. In response, Indonesia reported that it was in the final stages of itsratification process.

The discussions took place among environmentministers at the eighth meeting on the Asean haze agreement, one of therelated meetings of the 12th Asean Ministerial Meeting on theEnvironment.

The meeting also urged Asean member states to ensurethat companies adopt zero-burning techniques for land clearing. As afollow-up, those present at the meeting discussed the identification oferrant companies and cross-referencing of the location of hot spots, thestatement said.

The haze season usually occurs each year from June toSeptember, which is the dry season in Indonesia and also a time whenfarmers there clear land using the slash-and-burn method.
The worstepisode of haze to hit the region occurred in 1997.

Aseans efforts totackle the annual haze problem saw nine of its members ink the 2002Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. Only Indonesia hasyet to ratify the accord.

Meanwhile, in Jambi, Sumatra, health officialswarned of a sharp spike in the number of people with respiratoryproblems. According to Andi Pada from the Jambi provincial health   9  
  10. 10. office, the number of people suffering from respiratory tract ailments inthe Sumatran province has risen to 3,020, with 1,241 of them in thecapital, The Jakarta Globe reported.

He added that the standard airpollution index in the city had already reached unhealthy levels of morethan 100 particles per million.

Local health officials have distributed some3,000 masks to the population, especially for motorists, reportssaid.

Another official said attempts were being made to artificially inducerain in the area.

But this was proving difficult with few clouds and the drynature of the air, he added.
Reprinted courtesy of The Straits Times 
Source:   10