Fire Hotspots Detected Across the ASEAN Region, Including Thailand

More than 2,510 forest-fire hotspots have been identified by satellites across the ASEAN region during 4th to 7th September.  The hotspots across Southeast Asia were changeable though tended to increase, Mulyono R. Prabowo, deputy head of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), noted in a statement on Sunday (8TH September).

Hotspots were observed in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Timor Leste, and Thailand.

Earlier this year heavy smog deemed hazardous to health covered all of North Thailand. According to a Mae Fah Luang University study, smog covered Chiang Rai province from mid-January to the close of May virtually shortening the tourist season by four months.

Despite the research and reports on the damage, the smog crisis inflicted on health and the economy, the Chiang Rai’s governor has so far failed to elaborate on plans to avert a repeat of the smog crisis in 2020.

Like North and Northeast Thailand, Indonesia has been facing a severe dry season induced by El Nino that triggered drought and forest fires in several provinces this year.

The dry spell has cast a pall over 100 districts and cities in Indonesia’s provinces of Aceh, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, West Nusa Tenggara, and East Nusa Tenggara.

Eight provinces in Indonesia are susceptible to forest fires, but only six have declared an emergency status for forest fires.  The blazes are often started to clear land for plantations in the world’s largest producer of the edible oil from palm trees. The recurrence of fires prompted Indonesian President Joko Widodo to make permanent a ban on clearing new forest land for farming.

The Indonesian Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry recorded 2,070 hotspots, with a confidence rate at over 80%, from January to July 2019 period, based on monitoring by the Terra and Aqua Modis satellites.