Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Indonesia's 'haze' pollution defenses not enough, says green group

Michael Taylor and Kanupriya Kapoor in Reuters: Indonesia's promises to tackle the upcoming annual "haze" season with a $30 million fund and limited military equipment have been called into question by experts anticipating worse pollution levels than last year due to the El Nino weather pattern.

Indonesia has failed in previous attempts to stop the regional haze, with last year giving the worst pollution readings since 1997. Outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was forced in mid-2013 to apologize to neighbors Singapore and Malaysia, which were blanketed in thick smog caused by forest fires in Indonesia.

With expectations high that the El Nino dry weather pattern will hit around the middle of the year, the haze could be worse than in 2013, conservation experts told Reuters. "We are talking hundreds of thousands of hectares that will probably burn and I doubt (the government) will be able to cover this much of an area," said David Gaveau, a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research, a conservation organization based in Indonesia.

"We're expecting El Nino and if it comes, we're going to see much more fires than last year." The heavy smoke from slash-and-burn clearances often comes from the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, where large forest concessions are used by pulp and paper and palm oil companies, some of which are listed in Singapore....

NASA image of 2013 haze over southeast Asia

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