Why the Haze Could Be Much Worse Than It Is Now

One step ahead.

Dry eyes, itchy throat, incoming fever.

Is the haze back?

If you have been following, the latest regional weather update from the National Environment Agency (NEA) reported persistent dry weather over the Mekong sub-region (Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and China) and winds that may lead to haze over some areas.

And, that’s us in Singapore.

As you can tell from arrow directions below, the prevailing winds from the northeast might be the reason why we are experiencing the haze.

The winds blowing from Northeast might be causing the haze in Singapore.

As of now, although it is highly unlikely for Singapore to be affected by the fires in Sumatra because of the current wind direction, NEA also emphasised that “arising from drier weather conditions over the past few days, isolated hotspots with smoke plumes continued to be detected in Riau, central Sumatra and in parts of the Peninsula Malaysia.”

That brings us to the incredibly important work in mitigating forest fires in Riau, Sumatra.

The clusters in red show burning hotspots in Bengkalis, Riau from Feb 8 -21

Just three weeks ago, our community firefighters known as Masyarakat Peduli Api (MPA) and communities played a critical role in their rapid responses towards putting out peatland fires over a four-day period (Jan 30 – Feb 2) in Giam Siak Kecil Bengkalis, Riau.

Approximately 3.5 hectares of peatland were burnt during the fires.

The two areas affected were Buruk Bakul and Batang Duku in Giam Siak Kecil Bengkalis, Riau.

The fire started around 1.30pm and 1pm respectively in both areas.

It took the combined efforts of 10 to 13 community members, community firefighters, coordinators, and government officials to put out the fire in Batang Duku within seven days.

If you remember, the haze crisis in 2015 lasted for about four months starting from end of June.

Can we not see a repeat of the crisis that has affected our health and lives this year — and beyond?

We can. But only if more can be done in mitigating forest fires and restoring the peatlands.

Restoration Specialist Samsul Komar in WWF-Indonesia (above) was part of the field team who put out the fires.

Which is why we need strategic, collective effort with leading businesses towards sustainable palm and paper, consumer action and community work to stop the burning and restore our region’s forests.

The good news is, we are already one step ahead in helping to keep Singapore haze-free.

We supported the field team with canal-blocking structures (left) and installations of Early Warning System (right).

The field team has most recently installed 10 Early Warning System (EWS) that are compatible with Android phones. What this means: MPA members can now constantly monitor the peatland situation on the go – and respond faster.

The team also distributed four firefighting equipment and successfully built 10 new canal-blocking structures to collect water and rewet peatlands.

Aftermath of the fires. Restoring our peatlands is critical in providing a healthy, balanced habitat for endangered species like Sumatran tigers.

In the meantime, we are looking forward to revegetating 15 hectares of degraded peatland, building three more canal-blocking facilities and facilitating a stakeholder dialogue on water sharing.

Watch the video below to see how our community firefighters put out the fires:

Help us protect forests here.

Read more about our field work: protecting the last wild elephants, rare Sumatran tiger found near a human settlement, and why there was a stranded sperm whale in Wakatobi waters.

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1 Comment

  • Roy, March 3, 2019 @ 5:01 pm Reply

    Great to see measures are being taken to minimise the impact of such fires. Informative post!

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