Smoke from forest fires, largely in Indonesia, has shrouded parts of
Southeast Asia in thick haze. It is a seasonal problem in the region
that will not go away.
The Singapore Meteorological Services
reported Thursday moderate to dense smoke from "large clusters of
hotspots" in West Kalimantan in Indonesia and Sarawak in Malaysia. It
also detected moderate smoke in the southern half of Sumatra island in
Indonesia, as well as scattered hotspots in the provinces of East and
Smoke from the fires has shrouded parts of
Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore this week, causing airport
disruptions and health complaints among residents. Visibility dropped
so low Wednesday on the Indonesian island of Riau that flights had to
be delayed or diverted because of safety concerns.
heads the Research Center of Forest Fire Prevention and Rehabilitation
at the University of Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan province. He
says using fire to clear the land is a traditional farming method on
Borneo, the third largest island in the world.
in the dry season from July, August to September, wind direction is
mainly coming from south to north. Therefore Singapore and Malaysia
would have an impact on [from] the smoke," he explained.
has deteriorated in Malaysia this week. On Thursday morning, the
Department of Environment said parts of Sarawak on Malaysian Borneo
recorded "unhealthy" air pollution levels.
environment minister and his Indonesian counterpart will meet Saturday
to address the issue. Haze has been a source of friction between
Indonesia and its neighbors in recent years. Under the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations, these countries have agreed to cooperate to
reduce forest fires but haze continues to be a seasonal occurrence.
Central Kalimantan, Aswin says his team has been teaching farmers to
control fires, for example by not burning the entire land area at a
single time to reduce smoke accumulation. But he says funding to
sustain the campaign is a problem.
Fires release carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere. Some scientists say increasing carbon
dioxide levels contributes to climate change.
environmentalists say the fires destroy the habitat of some of the
world's rarest animals, such as the orangutan and eastern Sumatran