Some update to combat against peatland forest fire

Just a few updates on what the project is doing in relation to the fires:

We launched a campaign to Stop peat fire/ stop haze in Selangor in February this year  in partnership with forestry dept and Fire and rescue department and local communities.  We  have been promoting through posters for community and media coverage.

We have been supporting patrols three to four  times a week of local communities along the border of raja musa forest reserve since April.  We have increased the frequency to daily for the past month.  The patrols have detected a total of five fires started for land clearing.  Because of the prompt reporting and action all fires have been controlled in 2-6 days and have affected a total area of about 10 ha.  No fire this year has spread more than 2.5 ha.  This is much better than last year where 8 fires burnt  a total of 600 ha.  

At request of forest department  we have undertaken today an assessment of peat fires in southern Selangor where peat fires have been burning on and off for 1-2 months. More than 130ha has been affected by fires. The forest department has asked our help to control the fires and enhance community engagement in monitoring and control.

At the SEApeat project site in harapan Jaya - there have been small fires but we have helped the communities access pumps from adjacent plantations and fires have all been controlled. At request of the local government and at our initiative we have visited a number of site in northern Riau affected by the recent fires and have provided pumps and resources to three separate community fire fighting groups.  We are trying to raise funds from public and corporate donations to enable us to enhance the level of support.

We have initiated a stop the haze Campaign on 23 June to focus efforts to reduce the haze and give Malaysian public and companies an opportunity to contribute to haze prevention activities. We are recruiting volunteers to assist the awareness raising and also assist with patrolling and fire prevention measures.

In relation to the campaign we have met with the largest Malaysian Oil palm company ( Sime Darby) and the largest Indonesian oil palm and forest  plantation Company ( sinar mas).  we have had meetings with the Ministry of the environment, Ministry of public works and Ministry of economic coordination in Indonesia and the Forestry Department in Malaysia to discuss fire control and prevention measures.  The office of the Indonesian president has asked us to provide  our specific suggestions on fire prevention and control in Riau - in particular in relation to water management in peat.

We have made TV and radio interviews and have had five newspaper articles in three languages about our campaign. 

Next week we will have a meeting with the ASEAN secretariat and Indonesia and Malaysian Governments to discuss possible follow up strategies for fire prevention and proposals to discuss further in the planned TWG/ Ministerial steering committee meeting on 15-17 June which will be held in Malaysia.

We very much hope that we can stop the unproductive  blame game and stimulate a real partnership between government, plantation companies and civil society to once and fora ll put measures in place to stop the haze.  We are talking further to Sinar mas and sime darby to see if we can put together a partnership to prevent the haze through enhanced monitoring and reporting, improved surveillance and enforcement, better prevention measures ( especially water management) and preparedness. The engagement of the governments in such a positive strategy is important.


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