ASEAN Regional Haze Action Plan

The Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor (CIFOR) welcomes this week’s signing in Kuala Lumpur of the ASEAN Regional Haze Action Plan.

The Regional Haze Action Plan calls for measures to prevent and monitor land and forest fires and to increase fire-fighting capability. It also requires neighbouring countries to assist with the movement of personnel and equipment to fires and obliges countries where fires originate to respond promptly to request for information from other countries.

“CIFOR welcomes the agreement and believes it is a significant development in resolving the problem of fires and fire haze,” said Dr Luca Tacconi, CIFOR scientist and author of a soon to be released report on the causes and impacts of forest and land fires in Indonesia.

“It is particularly pleasing to see ASEAN members make a serious effort to commit to preventive actions, as preventive measures are politically the most difficult to undertake, but also the most important.”

In his report for CIFOR, Dr Tacconi will document the importance of implementing existing legislation on peat land development in Indonesia.

“CIFOR’s research shows that burning peat is the most significant source of haze. It also points out the need to rehabilitate degraded peat areas,” Dr Tacconi said.

While haze episodes can have significant economic impacts on the economies of the region, CIFOR hopes the signing of the Regional Haze Action Plan will not result in reduced attention to the economic and environmental impacts of fires on forest ecosystem, such as the loss of biodiversity.

CIFOR research clearly shows that economic losses relating to timber and environmental services from past fire events are much higher than the losses caused by haze.