Malaysia: Forest fire ravages most of Binsuluk reserve

The Star 14 Apr 16;
KOTA KINABALU: Forest fires damaged more than half of the 12,196ha Binsuluk peat swamp reserve over the past several weeks.

Inter-monsoon rains since Friday finally doused the fires, which started in early April and razed some 8,000ha of the area, said Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan.

The burnt-out areas will regenerate naturally but it will take time, he said, adding that the area was not suitable for any type of development due to its peat swamp characteristics.

Any development effort there would be a disaster, he said.

Binsulok and the nearby 3,630ha Klias reserve are the last remaining peat swamp forests in Sabah.

Firemen and the department’s Forest Rangers have been battling to put out the fires in Binsuluk, which were triggered by the prolonged dry spell since March.

Beaufort district officer Mohd Shaid Othman said there was also the possibility that the fires at Binsuluk could have been set off by poachers hunting for deer and other wildlife.

He said they were, however, leaving it to the police to carry out their probe into the matter.

Big drop in Johor open burning cases
YEE XIANG YUN and NABILA AHMAD The Star 13 Apr 16;

JOHOR BARU: There has been a big drop in the number of open burning cases in Johor in the first three months of the year despite the heatwave.

Until the end of March, 610 cases of open burning were recorded compared to 2,721 during the same period last year.

Most of the cases were forest and bush fires, which totalled 421, followed by burning of rubbish (85) and open burning at farms (55).

Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Othman Abdullah attributed the drop to joint efforts by his department and local authorities, including the Land Office.

"Enforcement efforts also singled out repeat offenders where the land owner was issued warning letters if open burning was found in the same location.

"So far, the Land Office issued four warning letters to land owners in Muar, Kempas in Johor Baru and Lepau in Pengerang," he said when opening the "Bomba with the Media" course at the department's headquarters here on Wednesday.

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