Malaysia: Sabah using satellites to monitor hotspots

The Star 9 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Forestry is using satellites to monitor hotspots daily as the state faces a two-month long dry spell with one of the lowest recorded rainfall.

Historically, January and February have always been wet months for Sabah with average rainfall for Kota Kinabalu recorded at 244mm and 104mm between 2006 and last year.

However, the rainfall was at 8mm in January and 49mm in February this year.

Sabah Forestry director Datuk Sam Mannan said 40 hotspots or fire alerts were detected in February in the southwestern Klias peninsula in areas of peat soil close to the forest reserves of Klias, Padas Damit and Binsuluk.

“We are using Nasa satellites to monitor hotspots and the situation every day,” he said, adding that over 45 forestry personnel had been deployed to work with firemen to put out the fires.

“The operations have been generally successful but peat fires can be difficult to put out.”

Most of the fires, he said, were detected outside the reserves but close enough to threaten the protected forest.

Peat soil is known to be a big source of stored carbon and when burnt, releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Mannan also urged communities living close to the areas to avoid open burning for land clearing and other purposes.

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