Saturday, 29 June 2013

NASA satellites reveal fire hotspots that are polluting Singapore

Fires lit to clear forest for palm oil and wood pulp plantations

June 2013. WWF has renewed calls for zero-burn policies to be enacted and enforced, as satellite hotspot analysis showed the single jurisdiction of Riau Province, Sumatra as the location of over 88% per cent of the fire hotspots that have seen Singapore and parts of Malaysia blanketed with the worst haze and pollution since 1997.

Fire hotspots are in concession areas
The call comes as Sumatra NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest (EoF) - WWF-Indonesia, Jikalhari and Wahli Riau - released a new analysis linking NASA indications of fire hotspots to concession areas. Fire and haze information is now available online through interactive maps through a joint project of EoF and Google Earth Outreach.

9000 fire hotspots
According to the most current analysis, more than 9000 fire hotspots were mapped in Sumatra by NASA satellites between 1 and 24 June, with more than 8000 in Riau province. Nearly 40 per cent overlapped with large scale pulpwood concessions or oil palm plantations.

WWF-Indonesia and EoF caution that further investigation will be required and is underway to better indicate responsibility for the fires. Concession holders have legal responsibilities over concessions but it does not necessarily follow that the companies are responsible for lighting the fires.

Palm oil 
Many are likely linked to the supply of palm oil. WWF-Indonesia this week released a report detailing the supply of oil palm fruit illegally grown inside the iconic Tesso Nilo National Park. The hotspot analysis shows the Tesso Nilo forest complex (the national park and two adjacent selective logging concessions) to be a significant source of haze, with 449 hotspots (6 per cent of the overall total for Riau) recorded there.

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