Malaysia — The government will impose control on open burning as a way to combat haze during the hot and dry season expected to occur between April and September this year, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas.
He said the decision was reached at a preparatory meeting of the National Haze Committee last Thursday, and that the Department of Environment had been tasked with controlling open burning.
“The strategy now, as we move towards a dry weather, (is) more enforcement on the road to ensure there will be less pollution; and impose regulation to ensure there will be no open burning,” he told reporters after opening a regional seminar on “Improved Tools and Methods for Integrating Biodiversity Conservation into Forest Planning,” here today.
Until last March 19, 320 cases of open burning was recorded nationwide, with 56 cases issued with compound fines and 23 were given notices under the Environmental Quality Act 1974. He said to control open burning, the government would also focus on peat areas in Selangor, Pahang, Miri (Sarawak) and Johor, as peat soil could easily combust when the water level in the area dropped.
He said so far the ministry managed to ensure the water level was sufficient, and at the same time build a number of tube wells either for fire-fighting purpose or for raising the water level at the peat area. Uggah also said that the Asean ministerial steering committee on trans-boundary haze would meet in Brunei in May to discuss ways to address haze.
The group will also discuss coordination and collaboration in various programmes as well as exchanging fire-fighting experiences among member states. At today’s event, Uggah launched the Perak Tool, a new biodiversity tool, aimed at assisting forest managers and decision-makers to ensure improved planning, sustainable harvesting and effective biodiversity impact assessment.
It comprises four kits namely Landscape Planning Tool Kit, Payment for Ecosystem Services Tool Kit, Rapid Biodiversity Assessment Tool Kit and Alternative Harvesting Method with Computerised Tree Selection Tool which can be used together or separately.
It was named after Perak because it was developed after six years of research carried out in the Temenggor Forest Reserve by local and United States researchers under the CBioD project costing about RM7 million. Also present at the function were Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, and Kamal Malhotra, UNDP Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The two-day seminar was attended by 120 participants from various Asean countries including Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. — Bernama