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Indonesia says forest fires almost gone JAKARTA - Indonesia said on Thursday 90 percent of forest and brush fires that have produced thick smoke blanketing much of Southeast Asia have died out as regional officials met to discuss plans to tackle the annual hazard. The smoke, known in the region as haze, has affected much of Southeast Asia for months, triggering fears of a repeat of the choking situation that hit the region in 1997-98.

Indonesia's neighbours have grown increasingly frustrated by the fires, most of which are deliberately lit by farmers or by timber and palm oil plantation companies -- some owned by Singaporeans and Malaysians -- to clear land for cultivation. "It's OK now. Ninety percent of it is gone. I hope it stays like that," Environment Minister Rchmat Witoelar told reporters after opening a one-day regional workshop to develop an integrated action plan to fight the fires. Recent rains have helped improve the situation, especially on Sumatra island where the haze disrupted flights in October.

The meeting in Jakarta discussed plans to set up an early warning system, build dams to block streams and rivers to divert water to underground peatlands and set up community-based firefighting brigades on Indonesia's Sumatra and Borneo islands, where most fires have raged. Bambang Saharjo, a scientist at the Bogor Agricultural University who has served as an expert witness in forest fire investigations, said corruption was often to blame for failure to bring firms responsible to justice.

However, he said law enforcement appeared much better this year and police in West Kalimantan province on Borneo had recently arrested the director of a local palm oil plantation company.


Link to related event Related event:
Forest fires

Related blog entries (category 'Forest fires') Related blog entries (category 'Forest fires'):
31 October 2006 · Indonesia haze back over Singapore
27 October 2006 · Rain clears haze in SE Asia, Indonesia airports open
18 October 2006 · Haze from forest fires paralyses Indonesia airports
12 October 2006 · Indonesia apologizes to its neighbors for smoke haze
09 October 2006 · Rains bring relief to some areas in haze-shrouded Indonesia


Posted in Forest fires @ 03 November 2006 03:33 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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