Malaysia — Malaysia is to impart knowledge of peatland management and ‘zero burning’ techniques to the authorities of the province of Riau in Sumatra, Indonesia as part of efforts to have greater collaboration in tackling haze in the region.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said as part of the cooperation between Malaysia and Indonesia under the Memorandum of Understanding on Transboundary Haze Pollution of June last year, Malaysia is assisting Riau, an area that has many forest fires and is closest to Peninsular Malaysia, to develop peatland management in tackling peat soil fires which cause haze.
“I will be going to Riau from Aug 7-9 to look at the work carried out by our Malaysian team on the ground.
“Beside that, I will continue the discussion with our counterparts on fire fighting. We need to enhance our cooperation and take concrete actions to end the annual return of the haze,” he told reporters after officiating the inaugural Malaysian Peat Society Seminar and Meeting themed “Peatland 2009” here Saturday.
On integrated peatland management in Riau, Uggah said Malaysia is to put up ‘check dams’ to maintain the water level in the peatlands.
“Experts have advised that better management of the water level of peatland will help to reduce peat soil and ground fires. During the dry season, the water level will go down by between 10 to 15 metres and the top part of the peatland could easily catch fire. So, we must manage the water level to avoid peat soil fires,” he said.
Beside that, he said the ministry had sent a team to Riau to teach local farmers new land clearing methods and also the implementation of ‘zero burning’ techniques to prevent open burning on agricultural land.
On the National Action Plan on Peatlands, Uggah said the ministry will present the draft of the plan to the Cabinet by the end of the year.
“I believe with this action plan to look into the wise use of peatlands in an integrated manner we can better manage our peatlands,” he said.
He added that the plan would provide the platform for more scientific work on the country’s tropical peatlands which was still very much lacking.