ASEAN Ministers Call for Sharing of Land Use Maps to Combat Forest Fire Haze

Asean2 April 2014: Environment Ministers from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have called for the sharing of land use maps and information on "hotspots" contributing to forest fires and smoke haze, to enable monitoring and management of transboundary haze pollution in the sub-region.

The 16th Meeting of the Sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution took place in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, on 2 April 2014.

The MSC acknowledged that the recommendation of the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in 2013 to establish an ASEAN Subregional Haze Monitoring System (HMS) has not been operationalized, due to difficulties in the sharing of land use and concession maps among countries. In its outcome statement, the MSC recognized the HMS as a useful tool for monitoring and internally enforcing actions against 'irresponsible parties' contributing to forest and peat fires, and urged countries to take the necessary action to operationalize the HMS. They further encouraged countries to share information on "hotspots" that may contribute to transboundary haze on a government-to-government basis.

Ministers noted the progress of implementation of the Project on Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peatland Forests in Southeast Asia, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the SEApeat Project, funded by the European Union (EU). The projects include pilot activities in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam. They emphasized that sustainable management of fire-prone areas, especially peatlands, remains a high priority for fire and smoke haze prevention, as well as for mitigation of climate change impacts. They renewed their commitment to implementing the ASEAN Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems 2014-2020. [Ministerial Statement] [ASEAN Website] [GEF Peatland Forests Project] [EU SEApeat Project] [IISD-RS Coverage of 23rd ASEAN Summit]