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Jakarta Post

Indonesia praised for curbing haze, but more challenges ahead

  • Adisti Sukma Sawitri

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, April 6, 2017   /   03:39 pm
Indonesia praised for curbing haze, but more challenges ahead Man-made disaster – A photo journalist attempts to avoid thick smoke from burned bushes as he covers land fires in Pekanbaru, Riau, on Jan.11. (Antara/Rony Muharrman)

Singaporean Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli bin Masagos Mohamad has congratulated Indonesia on its success in reducing land and forest fires last year.

The accomplishment is a direct result of positive measures the country has taken to recover from devastating haze in 2015, he said.

"In 2016, there were just over 100 hot spots as compared to many thousands in 2015," he said during the fourth Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources on Thursday.

He added that longer-term measures, such as a moratorium plan on new licenses to establish oil palm concessions, should still be put into action despite the success.

Widespread fires in 2015 lead to Indonesia’s worst-ever haze crisis, which angered neighboring countries Singapore and Malaysia, and caused Rp 221 trillion (US$16.58 billion) in economic losses to the archipelago.

The fires, which damaged 2.6 million hectares of land and forests, claimed the lives of 24 people and brought on respiratory problems to hundreds of thousands of residents across Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs chairman Simon Tay warned, however, that another challenge would test Indonesia this year, with the weather phenomenon El Niño expected to trigger a longer dry season starting in July.

 “There is a need for all parties across the agroforestry sector – companies, buyers and sellers — to work together to address the problem,” he said.