Brunei — Fire and haze in the region has been ‘under control’ since the severe episode in 2006, which led to the establishment of a Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution, but Asean countries remain on their toes on the possibilities of haze that has been the bane of the region since the late 90s.
Brunei Darussalam’s Minister of Development, Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, attended the Tenth Meeting of the Sub-Regional MSC on Transboundary Haze Pollution on Thursday in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, alongside environment ministers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore as well as representatives from Thailand and the Asean Secretariat.
According to a media release, the ministers noted that based on the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) forecast a dry weather condition is expected in August and September 2010. However, normal to above normal rainfall is expected to occur because of the high likelihood of La Nina during that period.
Caution was sounded that the traditional land clearing and replanting normally done during this time may lead to escalation of fires during extended dry periods.
According to the release, MSC countries have agreed to remain vigilant for any possible occurrence of fires during the dry days in the coming months.
The ministers noted that the Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS) which provides assessment of ignition potential, occurrence, and spread of fires based on weather, fuel and soil conditions is a very useful tool to undertake monitoring and preventive action to address the outbreak of fires.
The ministers also noted it is possible to provide early warning of fire danger rating if there is a reliable forecast of the weather and wind conditions and agreed to encourage and support the further development and refinement of the FDRS, urging all relevant agencies in Asean Member States (AMS) and ASMC to collaborate on this effort.
The ministers also expressed their appreciation to Indonesia for its enhanced and new efforts in implementing its Plan of Action to deal with haze pollution, which includes revising targets of hot spot reduction by 20 per cent annually, and directing local governments to stay alert for any escalation of hot spots.
According to Bernama, however, Indonesia remains the only Asean member state that has not endorsed the Asean trans-boundary haze agreement adopted in 2002 and came into effect a year later.
The ministers are scheduled to meet again in February 2011 in Singapore, which has assumed the chairmanship of the MSC over the next two years.