Indonesia May Have To Revise Land Burning Laws

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‘Children are being prepared for evacuation in warships already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate.’ Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Reuters

By Bernadette Christina and Michael Taylor

Indonesia is reviewing laws that allow farmers to burn up to two hectares, forestry officials said, the latest in so-far unsuccessful efforts to halt fires that have sent choking smoke across much of Southeast Asia.

Indonesia is also considering declaring a national emergency over the fires, which this week caused President Joko Widodo to cut short an official trip to the United States and pushed the country’s greenhouse gas emissions above the daily average from all economic activity in the U.S.

A 2009 law allows smallholder farmers to use slash-and-burn practices to clear land for agricultural purposes, and has been cited by green groups and plantation firms as a key cause of the annual fires when the burning gets out of control.

“The problem is that some people take advantage of this exception,” Indonesia’s environment and forestry minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, told reporters when asked about the law.

“In our last cabinet meeting, the president assigned us to review a regulation that allows land burning for two hectares.”

Revising the law may need parliamentary support which could delay changes until 2016, said Bakar, adding that the government was therefore considering an emergency regulation.

Forestry experts say the best way to clear forested areas is by tractors, chainsaws or hand tools. These methods are more expensive and time-consuming than fires.

The haze has caused pollution levels across the region to spike to unhealthy levels, and forced school closures and flight cancellations.

Warships are on standby to evacuate infants and other vulnerable residents of haze-hit areas, while other countries have been asked for help to tackle the fires.

The fires, often deliberately set by plantation companies and smallholders, have been burning for weeks in the forests and carbon-rich peat lands of Sumatra and Kalimantan islands.

“We support our government’s initiative to revise the provisional laws that allow small-holder farmers to clear up to two hectares of forested land by burning,” said Aida Greenbury, managing director of sustainability at Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). “But a multi-stakeholder initiative to support the local farmer and community must be initiated in parallel.

“The key here is to assist the farmers and the community in developing their land responsibly without burning.”

Indonesia usually enters its wet season in October and November, and despite the El Nino dry conditions, rain has been reported in parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan this week.

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I’ve often wondered how the media would respond when eco-apocalypse struck. I pictured the news programmes producing brief, sensational reports, while failing to explain why it was happening or how it might be stopped. Then they would ask their financial correspondents how the disaster affected share prices, before turning to the sport. As you can probably tell, I don’t have an ocean of faith in the industry for which I work. What I did not expect was that they would ignore it.

A great tract of Earth is on fire. It looks as you might imagine hell to be. The air has turned ochre: visibility in some cities has been reduced to 30 metres. Children are being prepared for evacuation in warships; already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate. It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century – so far.

And the media? It’s talking about the dress the Duchess of Cambridge wore to the James Bond premiere, Donald Trump’s idiocy du jour and who got eliminated from the Halloween episode of Dancing with the Stars. The great debate of the week, dominating the news across much of the world? Sausages: are they really so bad for your health?

Read the rest:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/30/indonesia-fires-disaster-21st-century-world-media

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An orangutan at a rehabilitation center in Central Kalimantan Province, Indonesia. A broad spectrum of wildlife, including elephants, birds and snakes, has been severely affected by the fires, scientists say. Credit Bay Ismoyo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Indonesia’s Forest Fires Take Toll on Wildlife, Big and Small

https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-2/js/ext.js

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A disoriented, pregnant orangutan, her treetop home in Indonesian Borneo reduced to charred wood, is rushed to a rehabilitation center by conservationists, who dodged walls of fire and toxic smoke.

Veterinarians care for 16 abandoned baby orangutans already living at the center. The babies had developed respiratory infections because of haze from the fire, delaying the conservationists’ continuing attempts to teach them how to live on their own in the wild.

Read the rest:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/31/world/asia/indonesia-forest-fires-wildlife.html?_r=0

Related:

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Singapore Central Business District, or CBD skyline is covered with a thick haze.
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An Indonesian woman and a child walk on a bamboo bridge as thick yellow haze shrouds Palangkaraya on Oct 22, 2015. AFP photo

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2 Responses to “Indonesia May Have To Revise Land Burning Laws”

  1. l8in Says:

    Reblogged this on L8in.

  2. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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