ASEAN — Association of Southeast Asian Nations members warned of the return of transboundary haze as the southern part of region prepares to enter its dry season, calling for increased vigilance by all countries on Thursday following a meeting in Brunei.
In a statement released at the close of the seventh Meeting of the Subregional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution, the assembled ministers said that the dry season across the southern part of the Asean region was likely to begin around June and last until September.
The dry season has traditionally been the time when transboundary haze sets in.
Therefore, increased hotspot activities can be expected in the region, with possibility of transboundary smoke haze during the more persistent dry periods, the statement said, adding that governments should be alert to the emergence of any hotspots.
The haze, which has in the past thickly blanketed the blocs skies for long periods, is largely caused by forest fires and is hazardous to those breathing dirty air or driving vehicles during periods of reduced visibility.
Many past fires have been blamed on farmers or corporations clearing land by setting it aflame a practice that is outlawed in Indonesia but has been difficult to prevent in practice.
The Brunei meeting, which gathered environment ministers and their designees from five member states Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and the Asean deputy secretary general, also took note of the substantive efforts taken by Indonesia to implement its plan of action related to the transboundary haze.
The plan of action is aimed at preventing and mitigating future forest fires.
Dry-season blazes in Indonesia are blamed as the primary source of smoke in the region.
The ministers are scheduled to reconvene in Singapore in October as part of a back-to-back meeting with the 11th Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Environment, the statement said.