Best of our wild blogs: 28 Oct 15

The Atlas Moth Chronicle – Episode 1
Bird Ecology Study Group

Thu 29 Oct 2015: 7.00pm @ LKCNHM – Dwi Listyo Rahayu on “Hermit crabs of Singapore”
The Biodiversity crew

Green Drinks Networking Night: Mingle with Calvin Quek of Greenpeace
Green Drinks Singapore

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Indonesia considers national emergency over forest fires: VP


Indonesia is considering declaring a national emergency over fires that have been smoldering across the archipelago for weeks, sending haze drifting across much of Southeast Asia, the vice president said on Tuesday.

The government would intensify efforts to contain the fires that have caused pollution levels across the region to spike to unhealthy levels, and forced school closures and flight cancellations, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said.

"The problem is too big," Kalla said in an interview at his office in Jakarta.

"We are now considering to," he said, referring to a declaration of an emergency, adding that thousands of troops would be deployed to help combat the fires.

President Joko Widodo is expected to make a decision on the emergency after returning from the United States, Kalla said.

Kalla's comments come just a day after Widodo announced he would cut short his first official trip to the United States to fly directly to the haze-affected areas.

"He will be more focused on domestic problems," Kalla said of the president's decision to cancel his visit to Silicon Valley, where he was expected to discuss investment deals with Apple and Google executives.

The fires, often deliberately set by plantation companies and smallholders, have been burning for weeks in the forests and carbon-rich peat lands of Sumatra and Kalimantan islands.

Recently, they have spread to places like Papua as the El Nino weather phenomenon exacerbates the dry season and hampers firefighting efforts.

An aide to the vice president, Wijayanto Samirin, said elevating the crisis to national emergency status would allow the government to speed up procurement processes for much-needed foreign firefighting equipment.

But he added there were concerns that businesses could use the government action to declare force majeure on deals in sectors ranging from palm oil to banking.

Kalla said about 40 million Indonesians in five provinces had been affected by the haze. The national disaster agency said late on Monday that haze was starting to spread south toward Java island, where over half the country’s population lives.

Indonesia has also deployed warships to evacuate infants and other vulnerable residents of haze-hit areas, a minister said last week.

The evacuations will be a last resort, said coordinating security minister Luhut Pandjaitan, if authorities are unable to provide care for those suffering from respiratory diseases.

The last time the country declared a national emergency was when the Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 100,000 people in 2004.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

House wants haze declared national disaster
The Jakarta Post 27 Oct 15;

As the government struggles to extinguish rampaging forest fires in the country, lawmakers have called for the haze crisis to be declared a national disaster.

House of Representatives speaker Setya Novanto said that haze from Sumatra and Kalimantan had spread to other regions and had caused thousands to suffer health problems and economic hardship.

“Of course, we should pay attention to this proposal [to name the haze a national disaster] because it has affected regions,” said Golkar Party politicians at the House of Representatives on Monday.

Edhy Prabowo, head of Commission IV overseeing forestry, agriculture, plantations and fisheries, said that declaring the haze crisis a national disaster would show the government’s increased commitment to overcoming the problem since there had been as yet no significant victory in its efforts to extinguish the fires over the past few months.

“[The haze crisis] wouldn’t have happened if the government had organized preventive measures,” said Edhy, a Gerindra Party politician.

He reminded those concerned that law enforcement would continue in the event of an increased status.

Despite growing concerns surrounding the haze, there were also worries that naming it a national disaster would stop the process of prosecuting fire starters, including companies.

The Environment Forestry Ministry has so far revoked the business licenses of three companies — PT Hutani Sola Lestari in Riau, PT Mega Alam Sentosa in West Kalimantan and PT Dyera Hutan Lestari in Jambi. All have been proven to have caused fires. The ministry has also suspended the licenses of seven companies.

As of Thursday, the National Police have declared 247 entities suspect for causing forest fires, comprising 230 individuals and 17 companies. Seven companies are listed as foreign investment companies.

Sixty-two cases are currently awaiting for trial.

House Deputy Speaker Agus Hermanto of the Democratic Party said that a disaster status would not stop legal prosecutions against perpetrators.

The status, he said, in fact authorized the government to use state budgets to fund the fight against the fires and to aid the recovery of victims.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said there was no urgency to name the haze crisis a national disaster because local administrations were still functioning.

“One of the conditions necessary for declaring an event a national disaster is that the functions of local administrations have stalled. [The administrations] are still working, none of them are paralyzed,” she said at the House on Monday.

The NasDem Party politician said that she was still assessing the financial and legal impact of announcing such a status.

The ministry’s director general of environment and forestry law enforcement Rasio Ridho Sani said the haze was caused by men, and thus did not qualify for the status of disaster.

He said that the status was mostly used for large-scale natural disasters in the country.

“We have tried to implement national-scale efforts to handle the haze crisis. The President [and ministers] directly handle the problem,” he said.

Rasio also said that the government would remain firm in prosecuting perpetrators.

Environment Minister Calls for Law Revisions, Rejects Task Force as Haze Thickens Over Jakarta
Markus Junianto Sihaloho Jakarta Globe 27 Oct 15;

Jakarta. Revisions to environmental laws must be made, but a designated haze task force is unnecessary, the Environment Minister has said as the haze crisis shows little sign of ending anytime soon.

It is necessary to revise the environmental law in terms of forest fires, however the idea to create a special force to deal with the issue is unnecessary, official said.

Siti Nurbaya, Environment and Forestry Minister, pointed to the 2009 Law on Environmental Protection and Management which allows companies to burn two hectares of land to clear space for operations — contributing to the nation-wide forest fires leading to months of thick haze blanketing the western part of Indonesia, particularly Sumatra and Kalimantan.

The Minister believes it is too easy for companies to gain permission for the fires, needing only the approval of urban ward chiefs and subdistrict leaders.

“That is why we are considering to revise the law. Besides, under what circumstances is such act an allowed? We have to make it clearer,” Siti said on Monday.

She has rejected calls from the House of Representatives to launch a special task force, maintaining that the ministry is responding to the crisis adequately. In Riau, a major source of haze, hot spots have been reduced by 44 percent, the Minister said.

“To label this a [national] disaster, we still need to study everything. What will happen in the future, what the issue would cost us,” she said.

The national weather agency, or BMKG, reported on Sunday that three-quarters of Indonesian territory was affected to varying degrees by the haze, including the capital Jakarta, with fires burning out of control across hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest in Sumatra and Kalimantan — the heartland of Indonesia’s palm oil industry — as well as in the relatively untouched forests of Sulawesi and Papua, where the government has massive ambitions of clearing more space for farmland.

The only areas not affected by the haze as of Sunday, according to the BMKG, were Yogyakarta, Central Java, parts of East Java, East Nusa Tenggara, and the northern part of Papua.

No new license for use of peat lands: Forestry minister
Antara 27 Oct 15;

Jambi (ANTARA News) - Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said license not yet used for peat land exploitation would be cancelled to minimize bush and forest fires.

"New license to use peat land is definitely banned," Siti Nurbaya said when on a visit here on Tuesday.

She said license already issued and the land has been cleared but not yet cultivated would be canceled, she added.

Exploitation of peat land, which is a source of water is also banned, she said, adding license already issued has to be withheld as "regulation on it is yet to be issued."

Earlier, head of the Jambi forestry office irmansyah said moratorium was already officially in force since 2012 on the use of peat lands both in forest area or outside forest areas.

"Moratorium is still officially in force since 2012 and management of peat land is with the building of canal blocking," Irmansyah said.

The canal blocking is to set the height of water surface, which is at least 40 centimeters higher than the surface of peat land to keep the peat wet, he said.

Dry peat during the lengthy drought has triggered forest fires that have ravaged millions of hectares of the countrys tropical forest over the past three months.(*)

Farmers' Coalition Seeks to Challenge 'Unfair' Plantations Law
Basten Gokkon Jakarta Globe 27 Oct 15;

Jakarta. Several Indonesian farmers’ associations and activists on Tuesday submitted to the Constitutional Court a motion for a judicial review of the country’s 2014 Plantations on Law, claiming it violates the rights of smallholders and indigenous people over those of plantation companies.

The group is challenging 11 articles in the law, which it claims has failed to improve the welfare of smallholders and independent farmers, despite being amended, ostensibly for that very end, by the previous House of Representatives last year, a day before its term ended.

“The revised law doesn't truly bring a mission for improvement compared to the old one,” said Gunawan, a lawyer from the Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS), representing the plaintiffs.

He cited Article 57 of the law, which regulates the partnership between landowners and plantation companies, and which the plaintiffs argue overlooks farmers’ participation in forming schemes within the partnership between the two stakeholders.

“The farmers’ hands are tied from the start,” Gunawan said at a discussion in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The group also argues that Article 42 allows plantation companies to either hold an operation permit (IUP) and/or a right of cultivation permit (HGU) to start working the land, including clearing farmland and growing crops.

Indonesian law states that companies can get an IUP from district authorities and an HGU from the Agriculture Ministry in Jakarta.

“But in reality, most companies only have an IUP. This makes it hard for the government to punish them when they are found to conduct unsustainable practices, such as burning land,” said Mario Saputra, an expert from the environmental group Sawit Watch.

The group says its research shows that only 25 percent of the estimated 200 palm oil companies in Central Kalimantan have an HGU, and that those without the permit are typically involved in slash-and-burn forest-clearing practices.

The Indonesian government is also losing revenue from companies that only operate without an HGU, which would oblige them to pay taxes to the government, Mario said.

Gunawan said that the plaintiffs, including the Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI) and the Farmers Initiatives for Ecological Livelihood and Democracy (Field), expected to be granted a preliminary hearing by the Constitutional Court before the end of the year.

Government to assist small, medium enterprises affected by haze: VP
Antara 27 Oct 15;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government will assist micro, small and medium enterprises (UMKM) affected by the haze that has been blanketing areas of Sumatra and Kalimantan.

"The government will assist micro, small and medium enterprises (UMKM) affected by haze from forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra," Vice President Jusuf Kalla said here on Tuesday.

Thick haze caused by forest and land fires has disrupted schools and businesses in various regions.

With regard to the handling of forest fires, the Vice President said the peatlands should be restored so that they function as these were intended to in natural course of things to prevent forest fires from occurring in the future.

"Thousands of people have suffered from health problems because of the haze," he said.

The Vice President emphasized that the government continues to make efforts to solve the haze crisis.

The government has instructed the police to firmly enforce the law against the perpetrators behind these forest fires.

"The companies responsible for setting off illegal forest fires that caused haze will be fined," he said.

The Chairman of the Association of Indigenous Indonesian Entrepreneurs (HIPPI), Suryani Sidik Motik, urged the government to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (UMKM) affected by the thick smoke.

"It seems that all sectors have been handled by the government. I hope the government disburses loans to small entrepreneurs properly," he said.

The establishment of a House of Representatives (DPR) Special Committee (Pansus) to investigate the haze problem currently affecting Indonesia will help the government and the law enforcers, according to the Houses deputy chairman.

"The committee has the authority to investigate and summon the related parties. This can help the government and the law enforcers," Agus Hermanto, the deputy chairman of the DPR, said.

He remarked that so far, the House Working Committee (Panja) on haze, formed by the DPR, had offered several recommendations to the government on efforts to tackle the haze problem.

"The issue, it seems, still remains unsettled. It is believed that the government is not yet serious (in handling the haze problem). This became evident as the government appeared to be making serious efforts only in the last few days. Therefore, a suggestion has been put forth that it would be better to establish a special committee on haze," he explained.

Agus, therefore, called on the government to again declare forest and land fires as a national disaster, so that the forest and land fires would be handled in an integrated manner on a nationwide basis.

He said handling haze must be given priority, including the lawsuits to be filed against suspected arsonists so that these could serve as a deterrent.

"Legal investigation must be conducted till those responsible for the forest crimes are put behind bars," Agus emphasized.(*)

Jokowi to stay in haze-affected regions 27 Oct 15;
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is set to personally lead the haze countermeasure efforts and stay at the affected regions such as Jambi and Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan following his return to Indonesia after a brief visit to the US.

“[The President] will stay for several days in the [affected regions] to directly conduct [haze countermeasure efforts]. He will probably returned to Indonesia on Friday and [fly] straight to the sites," said Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan in Jakarta on Tuesday as quoted by

According to Luhut, Jokowi's decision to stay in the affected regions was part of his commitment to tackle the disaster.

Previously, Jokowi called Luhut on Monday morning and received reports that the number of hot spots in South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan reached 146 and 366, respectively.

"Since there are many complaints from the people regarding health and social impacts due to haze, I've decided to cancel my trip to the West Coast," said Jokowi.

Separately, House of Representatives (DPR) deputy speaker Agus Hermanto praised Jokowi's decision to cut short his US state visit.

Agus also called on the government to immediately take strict action toward the culprits of forest and land fires.

"We have to involve law enforcement and continue [to process the culprits] until they are sent to prison. As for the companies, [we] should revoked their production forest concessions [HPH]. These [actions] should be done immediately," said Agus. (mas/kes)(+)

Govt to act against foreign companies that burn forests
Antara 27 Oct 15;

Jambi (ANTARA News) - A senior minister said here on Tuesday the government would act against companies including foreign ones found to have burned forests or land in the country.

"I can assure the government would take a firm action against plantation companies or foreign investors found burning forests or lands," Coordination Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Luhut Panjaitan said after holding a coordination meeting with a number of ministers under his coordination and institutions concerned at Sultan Thaha Syaifuddin airport.

He said the government would ask agencies concerned including the police to treat any party involved in the forest or land fires equally including foreign companies,

National Police Chief General Badrodin Haiti said when asked for confirmation regarding the case that investigation is still continuing in various regions but with regard to the case in Jambi he referred it to the regional police command chief,

Jambi Regional Police Chief Brigadir General Lutfi Lubihanto said the police are now still investigating two plantation companies with investors from Malaysia in connection with forest and land fires in the province namely PT Permata Alam Hijau and PT Asiatic Persada

He said the police are also still investigating a number of domestic companies with four of them already being confirmed as suspects.

The companies that have been declared as suspects are PT Dyera Hutan Lestari and PT ATGA in Tanjung Jabung Timur district, PT Ricky Kurniawan Kartapersada in Muaro Jambi and PT Tebo Alam Lestari in Tebo district.

He said a number of companies are still being investigated including those with foreign investors behind them.

The Jambi police command has named 31 suspects in connection with forest and land fires in the province consisting of 27 individuals and four corporations.

Fires have razed a total of 7,470.9 hectare areas in the province.(*)

Indonesia to operate more water bombing aircraft
Antara 27 Oct 15;

Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Indonesia will operate more foreign water bombing aircraft to put out land and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, a senior minister has said.

The aircraft will arrive soon to conduct fire fighting operations in an optimal manner, Coordinator Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said here on Tuesday after inspecting the state of the land and forest fires in Jambi province.

He admitted that fire fighting operations could not achieve maximum results as the area where land and forest fires, as also peatland fires, occurred was large.

In view of that, the country will operate more foreign water bombing aircraft, he said.

In general, the fire fighting operations have shown good results although haze still shrouded several areas, he said.

Fire fighters have tried their best to put out land and forest fires in South Sumatra and Jambi, but because of too many peatland fires, haze was still there, he said.

He confirmed President Joko Widodos plan to set up an office in an affected area, such as in South Sumatra. However, the location has not been decided.

It could be South Sumatra or Kalimantan. The President will have an office in one of the affected areas, and hoped that the haze issue could be resolved soon, he said.

Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Board (BNPB) Willem R confirmed a plan to deploy more water bombing aircraft to put out the fire at the existing hotspots.

A company will hire the planes, he said without revealing the name of the company.(*)

Surakarta surgical department creates mobile air filter for haze victims
Ganug Nugroho Adi, 27 Oct 15;

A team at the surgical department of Sebelas Maret University and Moewardi Hospital in Surakarta, Central Java, have created an affordable air filter aimed at helping people living in areas severely affected by haze.

Darmawan Ismail, the head of the team, said the instrument, named SUNS (Surgeons of UNS), weighed 100 grams and costed only Rp 20,000. It could be even cheaper, he added, if it was mass produced.

The ongoing haze crisis in Sumatra and Kalimantan inspired the team to make the air filter. People living in affected areas, breathing in toxic fumes, could suffer from respiratory illnesses, Darmawan said.

"This tool can be mass produced as it only needs modest and cheap materials," he said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Darmawan explained that the team used mica plastic, thin fibers and masks for the prototype. One valve connects the mica box with a mask for clean air to be breathed in and another valve is used to exhaust dirty air.

"The instrument functions as an air filter, air moisturizer and air freshener."

"Our trials show that it can help someone breathe in clean air while in the middle of haze so it could decrease the likelihood of respiratory illness," he said, adding that the team would serve as instructors for people and communities wanting to make the device themselves.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency reported on Saturday that there have been 10 people killed and 503,000 people hit with respiratory illness from the 43 million affected by the toxic smoke across 6 provinces. (rin)

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Indonesia: 557 hot spots detected in Sumatra Tuesday morning 27 Oct 15;

Five hundred fifty-seven hot spots were detected in Sumatra, according to Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) data from the Terra and Aqua satellite at 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

“As many as 415 spots are in South Sumatra, followed by Jambi (125), Riau (8), Riau Islands (5) and Lampung (4),” the station’s meteorology section head, Budi Satria, said as quoted by Antara in Padang on Tuesday.

He said the scope of the hot spots had worsened the air quality in several areas in West Sumatra, especially Agam, Bukittinggi and their surrounding areas.

According to the BMKG, the wind flowing from south to southeast has made West Sumatra one of the areas most affected.

“Based on its average level of particulate matter [PM10] monitoring data, as of 8 a.m. local time on Tuesday, the province’s Air Pollution Standard Index [ISPU] has stood at 303ug/m3 and this is already unhealthy,” said Budi.

The BMKG data show the potential for rainfall in Mentawai Islands and coastal areas on Tuesday evening.

It also forecasts rainfall in half of the areas in Sumatra on Wednesday.

“In the southern areas, rainfall is predicted to occur unevenly; thus, chances for hot spots to appear again remain high. This is why West Sumatra is predicted to still face the impact of haze,” said Budi.

Separately, BMKG spokesperson Eko Suryanto said in Jakarta on Monday that the haze would still affect Jakarta until Wednesday or Thursday.

He said smoke resulting from forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan had reached several areas in Java, although it was still on high up in the air, not near the earth's surface.

“This is monitored from Himawari-8 satellite imagery analysis, which shows that Jakarta was covered with thin smoke over the last 2-3 days, but it is 3-5 kilometers above the surface,” said Eko.

“The thin smoke is from Kalimantan, as the wind flows from north to Java.”

“In the next 2-3 days, the BMKG predicts that Jakarta will still be dealing with haze,” he said. (edn/ebf)(+)

Riau to Expect Rainfall as Weather Begins to Improve
Tempo 28 Oct 15;

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Light to medium intensity of rain showered some areas in Riau yesterday afternoon and gradually improving the weather condition there. Haze from remaining forest and land fire covering those areas are slowly disappearing. The chances of rain will occur throughout Riau.

“Yesterday’s rain has made detected hotspots to reduce,” National Board for Disaster Management Chief Edwar Sanger said Wednesday, Oct 28.

The Air Pollution Standard Index in Pekanbaru is currently at 82 Psi or medium. “Hotspots in Riau is currently zero,” said Edwar.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Pekanbaru station mentioned that Tera and Aqua satelite monitored 10 hotspots in Sumatra. The number have far decreased from the previous day of 661 hotspots. Four hotspots spotted in South Sumatra, three in Bengkulu and three in Lampung. “The hotspots were monitored at 7am,” said Pekanbary BMKG chief Sugarin Widayat.

According to Sugarin, the condition in Riau is cloudy with haze covering the area. “The maximum temperature is between 31.0-33.5 degrees celsius,” he said.

Although showered by rain, the haze from the remaining forest fire still disturbs visibility in some areas including Rengat 100m, Dumai 100, Pelalawan 700m and Pekanbaru with 1000m.


557 hotspots detected across Sumatra
Antara 27 Oct 15;

Padang (ANTARA News) - The Terra and Aqua satellites detected 557 hotspots indicating forest and plantation fires across Sumatra Island on Tuesday at 5 a.m. local time.

"Of the total hotspots, 415 were detected in South Sumatra, 125 in Jambi, eight in Riau, five in Riau Islands, and four in Lampung," Budi Satria of the Koto Tabang meteorology office stated here, Tuesday.

The fires produced haze that has also affected West Sumatra, he pointed out.

The pollutant standard index in West Sumatra reached 303 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3), which is considered to be categorically unhealthy, he remarked.

In the meantime, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has decided to cut short his visit in the United States and to head to Sumatra and Kalimantan to closely monitor the efforts to put out the ongoing forest and plantation fires.

While in the Blair House in Washington D.C. on Monday (Oct. 26) at about 10:30 a.m. local time, the president had a telephonic conversation with Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security affairs (Menkopolhukan) Luhut Binsar Panjaitan who is in charge of monitoring the countrys haze situation.

"Just now, I rang up Menkopolhukan regarding the smog condition especially in the provinces of Central Kalimantan and South Sumatra as I have received information that most hotspots have been detected here," Jokowi stated.

"Due to several complaints from the public related to the health and social impacts of the haze, I have decided to cancel my trip to the West Coast," he remarked.

"From here (US we will) directly go to Central Kalimantan and South Sumatra, while for the planned visit to the West Coast, I have assigned the relevant ministers to continue the visit to meet the CEOs to explore cooperation in the fields of information technology and creative economy," the president noted.

Thousands of hectares of land in Jambi burned down
Jon Afrizal, 27 Oct 15;

As many as 15,600 hectares of land in Jambi have been burned down in the last three months, some of which are in forest areas, a forestry official has said.

Jambi Forestry Agency head Irmansyah said on Tuesday that around 35 percent of the total burned down land in Jambi were forests while the remaining was in areas outside forests, including peatland. “Around 80 percent of the areas [not in forests] are peatland,” he said.

Irmansyah said local authorities had managed to handle fires in forests areas, including those which had occurred in the Berbak National Park and several conservation forest areas. “What is quite difficult to handle is fires in peatland,” he said, adding that thick smoke from the land and forest fires had continued to affect areas across the province.

Jambi Legislative Council (DPRD) speaker Cornelis Buston said DPRD Jambi was fully supporting the government’s plan to evacuate haze victims in Jambi. He further said the DPRD Jambi office was open and ready to accommodate the evacuated haze victims.

“The council building is ready to shelter the victims. They can use its air-conditioned rooms. Even the plenary meeting hall can be used [as a shelter]. This is for all of the people,” he said.

Cornelis said regent and mayor offices in all regions across Indonesia must be able to be used as evacuation locations for haze-affected residents. “Children suffering from respiratory infections need to be evacuated,” he said.

Together with the Jambi provincial administration, Cornelis said, DPRD Jambi was set to perform Istisqa prayers (mass prayers asking for rain). “Maybe the one and only thing needed to remove the smoke is rain,” he said. (ebf)

47 hotspots detected in North Sulawesi Province
Antara 27 Oct 15;

Manado, North Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - Some 47 hotspots indicating forest and plantation fires have been detected in North Sulawesi Province, according to Commander of the Sam Ratulangi Air Force Base Colonel Djoko Tjahjono.

"We are trying to put out the 47 hotspots that spread in North Sulawesi, by conducting aerial and land operations," he said here, Tuesday.

Of the 47 hotsptos, 29 are found in Mount Klabat, 10 in Mount Dua Sudara, three in Bollang Mongondow, four in South Minahasa and one in Mount Wiau.

The aerial operation is focused on Mount Klabat and Mount Dua Sudara located in North Minahasa because they have the largest number of hostpots, which have potential to produce haze that could affect flights to and from the Sam Ratulangi international airport in Manado.

Acting Governor of North Sulawesi, Sonny Sumarsono, said some 850 personnel have been deployed to extinguish the fires.

"I will closely monitor the efforts to put out the fires immediately, so it would not affect the air traffic in North Sulawesi," he stated.

A total of 18,435 hectares of forest and plantation areas located in 15 districts and cities in the province have been gutted by fires.

"For the forest area, 5,870 hectares are burned, and for plantation area, some 12,565 hectares," Head of the North Sulawesi forestry office Herry Rotinsulu stated.

Fires Force Closure of Four Mountains in East Java
Fires continue to rage on Mount Lawu, East Java. (Antara Photo/Siswowidodo)
Jakarta Globe 28 Oct 15;

Surabaya, East Java. Four mountains in East Java have been closed to the public indefinitely, as forest fires continue to spread with little sign of relenting, officials have said.

“The four are Mount Lawu in Magetan district, Mount Penanggungan in Mojokerto district, Mount Argopuro in Jember district and Mount Semeru in Lumajang district. They are closed to the public for an indefinite period of time,” East Java Governor Soekarwo said in Surabaya, on Tuesday as quoted by

Saifullah, the East Java Deputy Governor, also echoes the same thing, saying: “Now that we have closed the mountains, the officials have to keep a keen eye on them [the mountains] to ensure that no hikers or tourists will ever climb their way up," Saifullah, the Deputy Governor of East Java, said.

The East Java Provincial government has instructed the Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), district governments and military officials to assist in the evacuation of hikers in the case of future fire incidents.

Haze has caused limited visibility in the area, preventing the government from deploying a fleet of helicopters to extinguish the fires, Soekarwo said.

“The only way to extinguish it is by doing so manually,” he added.

An extended dry season has caused the conditions leading to increased vulnerability to wildfires around Indonesia.

On Oct. 18, seven hikers were killed while trapped on Mount Lawu due to forest fires.

Haze Affects Dozens of Airports
Tempo 27 Oct 15;

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - As many as 23 airports were experiencing trouble as haze originated from Sumatra and Kalimantan continues to worsen. "[The airports] did not shuts down its operation, it's just experiencing trouble and today there are 23 airports disturbed by the haze," said Novi Riyanto, Director of Air Navigation at the Communications Ministry to Tempo on Tuesday, October 27, 2015.

Novi said that the number of affected airports is likely to change every day. “Today [there are] 23 [airports], yesterday it was 40, and the day before it was 35 airports,” Novi mentioned.

Novi claimed that she has no information regarding how much losses suffered by the airports. However, Novi was certain that the worst losses were experienced by the airlines. “The passengers are the ones who are disturbed the most by this haze,” she explained.

Sultan Syarif Kasim II airport authority in Pekanbaru, Riau, decided to cancel 56 flights as the airport’s runway remains covered by haze.


Prolonged haze tortures kids
Hasyim Widhiarto, Apriadi Gunawan and Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post 27 Oct 15;

Children are the most vulnerable in the midst of Indonesia’s ongoing haze crisis, which has severely disrupted their education and threatened their health.

In Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, the local administration’s decision to close down schools for almost five weeks over the past two months has received a mixed reaction from teachers and parents.

Susiati, who teaches first grade students at SDN 6 Pahandut state elementary school, said she had received complaints from several parents who considered the policy, aimed at minimizing negative health impacts from the thickening haze in the city, ineffective and detrimental to their children’s development.

“The parents told me that their children had already forgotten what they learned at school, particularly in reading and writing. If the school closures last too long, we won’t have any other option except to start all the lessons again,” Susiati said on Monday.

Over the past few months, Indonesia has struggled to minimize the impact of air pollution originating from fires on plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The ongoing haze crisis has also been exacerbated by this year’s prolonged dry season, triggered in turn by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Among the country’s affected regions, Palangkaraya has so far been the worst hit, with an average daily concentration of particulate matter (PM10) in the city standing at above 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) over the past couple of weeks.

On Monday morning, PM10 concentration in the city stood at 1,357.16 µg/m3.

Authorities consider air quality “good” if its PM10 concentration stands below 50 µg/m3 and “hazardous” when it surpasses 350 µg/m3.

At least 10 people in Sumatra and Kalimantan have died, and thousands, mostly children, have been hospitalized because of severe respiratory illnesses caused by the haze.

Fourteen-year-old Khairil Anwar, a ninth grader at Muhammadiyah Junior High School, said the repeated closures had made him pessimistic about graduating from the school next year with decent grades.

“Our math teacher, for instance, could only cover the first two chapters of our math textbook due to the haze,” he said, adding that his school had only several weeks remaining before the end of the academic semester.

According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the ongoing haze crisis had caused more than 500,000 people in six provinces — Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan — to suffer from acute respiratory infections (ISPA).

In Pekanbaru, Riau, at least two children and one adult recently died because of respiratory failure allegedly triggered by the haze that has blanketed the province for the past couple of months.

Following at his administration’s unsuccessful attempts to put out forest and peatland fires, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has instructed his ministers to prepare for the evacuation of haze victims, particularly infants and children, from the worst affected regions.

In a visit to Central Kalimantan on Saturday, Culture and Education Minister Anies Baswedan said that the haze had affected the operation of around 25,000 schools across the archipelago.

Anies said the government would rearrange the schedule for national exams in the affected schools next year in order to give their final year students more time to prepare.

“[The results of] national exams do not determine [a student’s] graduation. The exams won’t ask students things that they did not learn [at school],” he said.

Meanwhile in West Sumatra, several regional administrations decided on Monday to give local students another day off because of thickening haze in their respective areas.

The Padang municipal administration, however, decided to open local schools again after closing them on Friday and Saturday for health concerns.

“Despite the haze, I decided to take my son to school, otherwise he would miss the lessons,” said Dewi Fajriani, a local resident and mother of a fourth grader.

In North Sumatra, a number of local administrations, including in provincial capital of Medan and Simalungun and Deli Serdang regencies, extended school closures until Tuesday despite a declining intensity of haze in the regions.

“We will start school activities again on Wednesday,” said Deli Serdang Education, Youth and Sport Agency secretary Misran Sihaloho.

Residents leave town in search for fresh air
Hasyim Widhiarto, Syofiardi Bachyul Jb and Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post 26 Oct 15;

Feeling frustrated with the unbeaten smoky haze crisis in their hometown, Palangkaraya residents have started to abandon the Central Kalimantan provincial capital, temporarily leaving their spouses, jobs and properties in search of fresh air.

After struggling to survive the prolonged haze crisis for the past several weeks, Nurhayati, who lives in Jekan Raya district, Palangkaraya, finally gave up after she had recently rushed her 2-year-old daughter to a local hospital because of a severe cough.

With approval from her husband, a member of the local Indonesian Military (TNI), the mother of three packed her luggage on Saturday and took her children to her cousin’s house in the South Kalimantan city of Banjarbaru, located some 200 kilometers southeast of Palangkaraya.

“The smoke has become too dangerous for my children. I have no other choice except taking them out of town immediately,” the 22-year-old housewife told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Nurhayati, however, said she must leave her husband in Palangkaraya, as military personnel in the province have been deployed to support the government’s efforts to extinguish extensive forest and peat land fires in the region, which has become the source of pollution that has blanketed Palangkaraya and surrounding regions over the past two months.

Thirty-two-year-old Kartika Sari, another Palangkaraya resident, shared a similar story.

An employee of a pharmaceutical company, Kartika recently decided to take unpaid leave to bring her 3-year-old daughter to Banjarmasin, the South Kalimantan provincial capital.

Kartika said she had actually wanted to bring her daughter out of town since earlier this month upon learning that the level of air quality in Palangkaraya stood at extremely hazardous levels, but refrained from doing so since she had no relatives in Banjarmasin.

Over the past few months, Indonesia has been struggling to anticipate the impacts of air pollution haze originating from fires in peat land and plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The ongoing haze crisis has also been exacerbated by this year’s prolonged dry season that has been triggered by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Among the country’s affected regions, Palangkaraya has so far become the worst with the average daily concentration of particulate matter (PM10) in the city standing at above 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) over the past couple of weeks.

Authorities consider air quality “good” if its PM10 concentration stands below 50 µg/m3 and “hazardous” when it surpasses 350 µg/m3.

On Saturday, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) revealed that the haze had caused more than 500,000 people in six provinces — Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan — to suffer from acute respiratory infections (ISPA).

In Pekanbaru, Riau, at least three people have died due to respiratory failure allegedly triggered by the haze that has been blanketing the province for almost two months.

Meanwhile in West Sumatra, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) Padang station on Saturday reported that the province’s Minangkabau International Airport (BIM) had become the only airport operating in the central part of the island, as haze had reduced visibility in Medan in North Sumatra, Palembang in South Sumatra and Jambi to below 400 meters.

“Visibility in all airports in the three cities stands below the minimum [safety] requirement. All have been closed except BIM,” said the station’s spokesperson, Budi Iman Samiaji.

Haze spreads to Jakarta, but no disruption to flights 27 Oct 15;

The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) has announced that the haze has spread to Jakarta from forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, but it has not affected the flights at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Tuesday.

BNPB’s head of data information Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Monday that the spread of haze to Jakarta was the first time it has ever happened since forest fires started affecting Sumatra and Kalimantan. “In previous years, we never saw the haze spread to Jakarta,” said Sutopo.

He said that that thin haze was seen at a height of 1,000 to 3,000 meters in Jakarta and looked thicker in the morning.

Meanwhile, the management of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport said on Tuesday that the haze did not affect any flights at the airport.

“Currently, there are no reports of haze from crew members in the field. If there is haze, it must be outside the airport,” said Yudho Arianto, a Soekarno-Hatta Airport Terminal 2 duty manager as reported by on Tuesday.

He said that delays and cancellations of flights only occurred for the flights to haze-prone areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

BNPB said that apart from covering the Jakarta sky, thin haze has covered the sky above Banten, West Java, and the western part of Central Java. (bbn). (+)

Haze Cuts Indonesia's Oil Production as Pollution Hurts Workers
Fitri Wulandari Bloomberg 27 Oct 15;

Indonesia’s forest fires are cutting the country’s crude oil production and briefly shut a BP Plc gas plant this month, in the first signs the haze pollution is affecting industry.

Haze from the fires on Sumatra island means oil fields have to undergo more frequent maintenance, and staff are unable to work properly because of the poor air quality, Elan Biantoro, a spokesman at upstream oil and gas regulator SKK Migas, said on Tuesday. Crude oil output has fallen below 800,000 barrels per day, compared with an average of 800,500 barrels a day in September, though Biantoro couldn’t say how much the drop was.
“It shows that production is disrupted because we normally pump more than 800,000 barrels a day,” he said.

Smoke from burning land for plantations in Sumatra and Borneo has spread across Southeast Asia for over a month, causing respiratory illnesses in Indonesia and leading President Joko Widodo to cut short a trip to the U.S. this week. Exacerbated by dry weather from the El Nino phenomenon, this year’s haze is among the worst on record.

Hundreds of oil wells in Sumatra’s Riau province, including those run by Chevron Corp., had to be shut down due to haze last year, showing extended pollution could worsen the impact this time. Chevron, Indonesia’s biggest oil producer, operates the Duri and Minas fields in Sumatra. Indonesia may take as long as a decade to permanently curb the land-burning, according to Jonatan Anderias Lassa, a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

The haze also disrupted operations of the Tangguh liquefied natural gas plant in Papua this month, Biantoro said. Tangguh’s Train 1 was shut from Oct. 16-18 to clean filters, with normal operations having resumed and no disruption to the shipping schedule, said Dharmawan Samsu, Indonesia country head for BP.

Oil production in Indonesia, which plans to rejoin OPEC, may average 810,000 to 815,000 barrels a day for this year as the Banyu Urip field in Cepu will ramp up to full production in mid-November, Biantoro said. That would still be lower than a state 2015 budget target for 825,000 barrels a day, he said.

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Indonesia: Sick, hungry orangutans fall victim to Indonesia fires crisis

Dessy Sagita AFP Yahoo News 27 Oct 15;

Palangkaraya (Indonesia) (AFP) - Endangered orangutans are falling victim to a devastating haze crisis that has left them sick, malnourished and severely traumatised as fires rage through Indonesia's forests, reducing their habitat to a charred wasteland.

Rescuers at a centre for the great apes on Borneo island are considering an unprecedented mass evacuation of the hundreds in their care, and have deployed teams on hazardous missions to search for stricken animals in the wild.

At the Nyaru Menteng centre in Kalimantan, sixteen baby orangutans have been put into isolation, suffering infections from prolonged exposure to the thick, yellow smoke suffocating Indonesia's half of Borneo island.

A devoted carer tries to entertain the youngsters with toys and games as the infants recover from high fevers and serious coughs.

In another enclosure, several orangutans lie about listlessly, too exhausted to move after days hunting for food and water as fires relentlessly encroached on their forest homelands, forcing them to flee.

Others swing repeatedly from bar to bar, occasionally pausing to make a distinct smacking with their lips -- a sound that makes their carers anxious.

"That's called a quick kiss," said Hermansyah, a carer at the centre, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

"When they make this gesture, it means they are under tremendous stress," he told AFP.

- Massive destruction -

The fires from slash-and-burn farming -- a method to quickly and cheaply clear land for new plantations -- have so far destroyed 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) in Kalimantan and neighbouring Sumatra.

The vast plumes of smoke have drifted over large expanses of Southeast Asia, sickening countless people, disrupting transport, schools and business, and drawing outrage from neighbouring governments.

View galleryBaby orangutans who had been suffering from respiratory …
Baby orangutans who had been suffering from respiratory problems from the thick haze play in a baske …
Despite being a near annual occurrence, the toxic cloud is on track to become the worst on record, and staff at the centre say the intensity of the smoke and flames at ground zero has never been seen before.

As the situation reached crisis point in recent months, with suffocating yellow smoke descending on the region, staff began receiving alarming reports of stricken apes and deployed emergency teams.

A team made up of a veterinarian, a professional climber and a technician armed with sedative darts has been trekking into the burning forest on hazardous missions, battling flames and smoke.

"Many times the visibility was as low as 30 metres, and we felt chest tightness and headaches," Hermansyah said.

A baby orangutan, one of several who had been suffering from the haze that has blakneted Indonesia, …
Many orangutans rescued from the fires are malnourished and dehydrated, and terrified of humans after hostile encounters with villagers when forced to search further afield for food.

Some have required surgery for infections exacerbated by the haze, Hermansyah said, while others have been too scared to venture for long outside the protection of their enclosures.

- Fires 'beyond crazy' -

The threat level at the centre still sits on "code yellow" but the pace and scale of the approaching fires have forced programme manager Denny Kurniawan to consider an unprecedented scenario -- code red, a full-scale evacuation of all 470 orangutans in their care.

The logistical challenges of such a massive operation are something the carers don't want to dwell on, but Kurniawan fears some in the wild have already burned to death and will not leave others to their fate in the fires.

"This year's disaster is definitely the worst since 1997," Kurniawan said, referring to the worst-recorded haze crisis in history.

"We've never been forced to evacuate orangutans or draw up an emergency contingency plan, but these fires are beyond crazy."

The scale of the disaster has captured world headlines, with the haze now drifting as far as Thai holiday islands and the Philippines. Indonesian President Joko Widodo cut short his trip to the United States on Monday to return home to deal with the crisis.

The government has deployed around 30 aircraft and tens of thousands of troops to fight the fires, and begun sending warships to the worst-affected regions to prepare for large-scale evacuations if needed.

Authorities in Kalimantan have blamed limited resources and tinder-dry conditions they say have made it extremely difficult to control the fires. The head of the provincial nature conservancy agency Nandang Prihadi told AFP that people "must be patient".

But that is not an option for Kurniawan and his staff at the beleaguered centre, who are frustrated that so little progress has been made in nearly two decades of annual haze outbreaks.

"Why haven't we learned anything?" he said. "Why does this keep happening?"

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Indonesia Welcomes Najib's Pro-active Attitude To Assist In Haze Problems

Azeman Ariffin Bernama 28 Oct 15;

JAKARTA, Oct 28 (Bernama) -- Indonesia welcomes the attitude of Malaysia's prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who had called on Indonesian president Joko Widodo to discuss and make proposals on resolving the problems of forest and estate fires in the country.

Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla said the other neighbouring countries should emulate Najib's attitude and should not merely make criticisms because Indonesia itself was struggling to end the haze problems.

"Indonesia is thankful to Pak Najib and everyone, there is formal agreement at the Asean level on the (forest and estate) fires...(and) if necessary to resolve the problems together, Indonesia is grateful for the joint efforts...

"Indonesia has endeavoured by mobilising 20 aircraft, five battalions of the armed forces as well as the general public," he said in a special interview with Bernama at his office, here recently.

During his brief visit to Indonesia recently, Najib held a meeting with Jokowi to discuss the haze issue and cooperation in the oil palm industry.

During the four-eyed meeting, the prime minister suggested to Indonesia to build tube wells as a measure to control the forest fires as an alternative to Indonesia's original proposal to build canals that would take three years to complete.

Jokowi, who agreed with the proposal, said Indonesia would send its team to study the construction and effectiveness of the tube wells as implemented by Malaysia, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

Jusuf said the haze that hit Malaysia and Singapore was caused by the wind and as such, Indonesia could not control the haze from affecting other countries.

"The question of the smoke (haze) for Indonesia poses serious problems because most of the people affected are in Sumatera and Kalimantan in Indonesia...we can't control the wind, nature controls the wind and carries the smoke to Singapore and Malaysia," he added.

He said that as neighbouring countries, everyone should help each other including when a country was in difficulty, and likewise Indonesia assisted in providing fresh air through its forests to the neighbouring countries.

"As neighbours, we can benefit together, we enjoy whatever is positive and when there are problems, we face them together. If the air is good, we have clean energy, clean weather...Malaysia also benefits from the forest in Indonesia but if there is smoke, what can we do. We work together in good and bad times," he said.

On the activities of local residents in burning the estates and forest, the vice-president said although the human factor was the cause of the fire, the problem was made worse by the dry weather.

He said the Indonesian government had long-term plans to overcome the problems of forest fires by restricting the areas for plantations especially on peat soil and would not compromise with the groups who indulged in burning the plantations, including companies from Malaysia.

Jusuf said the local population involved in forest and estate fires were the low-income group who could not afford to acquire sophisticated and heavy machinery, and the government had already taken action against them.

"They don't have heavy machinery, no bulldozers, excavators to make the bunds and thus they resort to burning. But this has been prohibited by the police. Many people had been punished, many people are imprisoned each year and many industries too had been fined for resorting to burning," he said.

Indonesia is facing the worst haze this year which had lasted more than three months due to the open burning which could not be controlled especially on peat soil.

Several areas such as in Palangkaraya and Pontianak in Kalimantan, the Air Pollutant Index (API) had recorded readings which exceeded 2,000 while in Jambi and Riau in Sumatera, the API readings had exceeded the 1,000 mark.

The thick smoke enveloping these regions had resulted in Malaysia being hit by severe haze to the extent that the government had taken measures to close schools temporarily depending on the API readings in several states in the peninsula.


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Malaysia: Air quality improves towards end of day

The Star 28 Oct 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: The air quality in Banting, Selangor, improved from an unhealthy air pollutant index (API) reading of 103 at noon to a moderate 93.

The Department of Environment’s portal had Larkin Lama and Pasir Gudang in Johor, which had unhealthy API readings yesterday morning, registering moderate readings of 93 and 85 respectively as of 8pm.

Other areas which registered moderate readings included Port Klang (79), Petaling Jaya (64), Bukit Rambai, Port Dickson, Putrajaya and Cheras, Kuala Lumpur (80 each), Malacca (77), Kota Tinggi (63), Nilai (74), Seremban (72) and Muar (63).

An API reading of 0 to 50 indicates good air quality; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and 300 and above, hazardous.

Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said the haze was expected to end next month.

She said the northeast monsoon was expected to commence in the first or second week of November, and would end in the second week of March next year.

“Beginning November, we will experience the northeast monsoon winds. This means the wind from the South China Sea will not bring in the haze from Indonesia, and the country will be free from the haze,” she said.

She said the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry had implemented 29 cloud-seeding operations to reduce the effects of haze since March.

Che Gayah said cloud-seeding operations would be continued in areas which recorded unhealthy API over a period of 72 hours.

“Cloud seeding has successfully produced rainfall in some areas affected by the haze, including the Klang Valley,” she said.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar is scheduled to meet Indonesian officials on the assistance required from Malaysia to fight forest fires in the republic.

He said Malaysia had sent an aircraft to Indonesia to extinguish the forest fires and the Indonesian government said it had helped a bit. — Bernama

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Philippines: President won’t castigate Indonesia for haze, to offer help instead

Kristine Angeli Sabillo 27 Oct 15;

With a number of provinces now affected by the haze caused by forest fires in Indonesia, President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday said he prefers to offer help than blame its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) neighbor.

Earlier reports said Palawan, Cebu, Leyte, General Santos City, Davao and Cotabato are just some of the areas affected by the haze, which brings about increased risk of respiratory infections and cardiac ailments, according to the Department of Health.

“Instead of castigating an Asean brother country, in the Asean Summit we should really look for wherewithal direction, the attitude of change, to help Indonesia avoid this problem,” the President said during a forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) at Solaire in Paranaque.

“That, I think, is the most constructive activity that we should be undertaking. Rather than concentrating on apportioning blame,” he said.

Aquino explained that the haze just recently reached the country and that he is still waiting for the Department of Science and Technology’s study and recommendation on the matter. RAM

Prices of N95 masks double as Indonesian haze blankets Cebu
Jhunnex Napallacan, Jocelyn R. Uy, Inquirer Visayas, Philippine Daily Inquirer 27 Oct 15;

CEBU CITY—The prices of N95 face masks have doubled due to a high demand following reports of hazardous haze and dust particles over Metro Cebu.

N95 masks now cost P105 each from P55, said Councilor Dave Tumulak, chair of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

There was also a reported shortage of supply of the face masks and hoarding by suppliers to jack up the prices, he added.

“I told the Office of the Civil Defense about this so the OCD would inform the Department of Trade and Industry to control the prices of the N95 masks,” Tumulak said.

Environment officials earlier urged residents to wear protected masks due to the dust particles in the air that were beyond normal because of the haze triggered by the forest fires in Indonesia and pollution in Metro Cebu.

But on Monday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the dust particles in Metro Cebu’s air had gone down although the public must continue to protect themselves.

Based on the ambient air quality monitoring as of Monday morning, the dust particles, or particulate matter (PM), measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter reached 34 micrograms per cubic meter, below the limit of 75 micrograms per cubic meter, according to DENR Director William Cuñado.

As of 3 p.m., Cuñado said the PM measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter reached an average value of 56 micrograms per cubic meter within the 24-hour period, still below the limit.

Back to normal

He said this meant that air quality had gone back to normal.

When the report of haze came out on Saturday, people started buying N95 masks from the pharmacies and other medical suppliers.

Judith Obera, sales clerk of Berovan Marketing, said there was a high demand for N95 masks but denied that the prices were high.

“A lot of people were looking for N95 masks. But we had run out of stocks,” she said.

In an advisory Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) urged residents in the affected areas to stay indoors with good ventilation, avoid low-lying areas where smoke and suspended particles may settle and to wear outdoors the appropriate dust mask.

The advisory was issued as the thickening haze from Indonesian forest fires reached the southern and central parts of the country, putting the elderly, children and those with respiratory and cardiovascular ailments at risk.

“Haze due to forest fire can cause air pollution, which can bring about increased risk for respiratory tract infections and cardiac ailments,” the DOH said.

Affected areas

In an interview with reporters, Health Secretary Janette Garin said that based on data provided by the Environmental Management Bureau, the areas affected by the haze in Luzon and Visayas were Cebu, Palawan and Leyte provinces and General Santos City, Davao and Cotabato in southern Mindanao.

Garin said children and the elderly in these areas were strictly being advised to stay indoors. Those with sinusitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, bronchitis, diabetes and heart conditions must also avoid going outdoors to prevent their conditions from getting worse.

“We don’t encourage children to play outside because their lungs are not yet that mature and their respiratory rate is faster compared to adults, so they are at risk of inhaling more haze particles,” Garin said.

She also warned against exercising outdoors as it increases the intake of airborne toxins harmful to health. “When you exercise, you increase breathing so you will inhale more particles… which can aggravate pulmonary conditions and allergies,” she added.

Garin said the DOH was highly recommending the use of face or dust masks in the areas affected by the haze. “In areas where there is very thick haze, you should also protect your eyes,” she added.

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Indonesia: Parts of Aceh Completely Submerged Amid Severe Floods

Muhammad Hamzah Jakarta Globe 27 Oct 15;

Jakarta. Severe floods have struck Aceh, forcing hundreds of residents to flee as their houses have become completely submerged underwater, and in some cases, even being carried away by the current.

High-intensity rains have poured down on the districts of Southeast Aceh, South Aceh and West Aceh from Sunday afternoon through to Monday morning, causing the local Gelombang River to overflow and flood residential areas, roads, irrigation channels, rice fields and mosques.

Residents are afraid that the floods will not subside any time soon as the areas are reportedly still cloudy, indicating that there are more rains to come.

“The floods in Southeast Aceh have swept away five houses while 10 others are severely damaged and 102 are buried in mud. The flooding across the main highway stretches as long as 100 meters,” Ali Basrah Pasaribu, the Southeast Aceh deputy district head, said on Monday.

The Aceh Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) is still evacuating victims, leading them to higher ground in order to avoid the floods.

This was the case in South Aceh,, where hundreds of families have been forced to abandon their homes.

In West Aceh, it was reported that three houses had been washed away by the floods while others were submerged underwater due to rising water levels.

Floods submerge 3,238 houses in Langkat, North Sumatra
Antara 27 Oct 15;

Langkat, N Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Some 3,238 houses in five sub-districts in Langkat District, North Sumatra Province, were flooded following incessant heavy rains over the last few days, according to the Langkat disaster mitigation office.

Tanjungpura sub-district was the worst hit by the flooding, Noto Atmojo of the local disaster mitigation agency, stated here, Tuesday.

The five sub-districts affected by the floods are Sawit Seberang, Padang Tualang, Hinai, Tanjungpura, and Sei Lepan.

In Sei Lepan, the floods inundated a 150-hectare palm oil plantation. The floodwaters, reaching a height of up to 150 centimeters, submerged several roads and cut off land transportation.

In Tanjungpura, the floodwaters submerged 2,766 houses located in the villages of Teluk Bakung, West Pematang Cengal, Paya Perupuk, Baja Kuning, Pekubuan, Pekan Tanjungoua, and Pantai Cermain.

In the meantime, floods also hit South Aceh District, inundating more than one thousand houses, following heavy downpours on early Tuesday.

"It is estimated that more than one thousand houses have been flooded in South Aceh. The floods were triggered by early morning heavy rains," Erwiandi from the South Aceh disaster mitigation office, noted.

The floods affected the sub-districts of Tapaktuan, Samadua, Sawang, Central Trumon, and East Trumon.

The floodwaters in most of the sub-districts have resided, and the local authorities have set up public kitchens to help the flood victims.(*)

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30 years later, is there an end in sight to haze problem?

Today Online 28 Oct 15;

KUALA LUMPUR — For decades, smoke from Indonesia blows into Malaysia towards year-end, erasing the country’s iconic skylines and driving people indoors to wait out what has now become known as the “haze season”.

A headline from nearly 20 years ago said “ASEAN ministers to discuss smog problem” — and in 2015, they are still discussing it.

After talking for so long and extensively, what have Malaysia and Indonesia achieved?

“Sadly, nothing much,” said Dr Helena Varkkey, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s Department of International and Strategic Studies, in an email interview.

“Haze has only become more severe as the years go by. Both governments continue to call for stricter enforcement of zero-burning and controlled burning laws. They, however, are continually being flouted.”

Dr Varkkey, who has written more than a dozen academic articles on smoke, said while Indonesia had brought several individuals and companies to court for illegal burning and sentenced them, this was “a very small proportion of the total wrongdoers”.

“Otherwise, both countries usually respond to haze in a very reactive manner. Firefighters and aircraft are deployed only after fires are detected, and not much, if any, preventive actions are taken before the burning season.

“The government (and people) seem to forget the haze as soon as the sky is clear — out of sight out of mind.”

Dr Varkkey said Southeast Asia has been experiencing almost annual smoke since 1982 and, 33 years later, Malaysians shouldn’t hold their breath for year-round clear skies to return.

“The haze problem persists simply because of the lack of enforcement. Both countries have rather strong laws governing clearing of land. However, companies, especially, are able to get away with flouting them.

“This is because there are often close patronage relations between companies and the governing bodies.

“Individuals from these companies are often connected to government elite either through genuine friendships or reciprocal relations built through election funding or other political contributions.”

She said these close relationships allowed companies to gain what should, by right, be illegal – access to peatlands, and to get away with burning if and when it happens.

For example, Dr Varkkey said, policemen purposely delayed investigations so that evidence could be cleared, adding that even if cases were brought to court, they were often dropped with no explanation.

But although the problem persists in Indonesia, neighbouring countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia, are feeling the burn.

The smoke from Indonesia’s fires have forced schools here to shut down for several days at a time, flights to be cancelled, and has reportedly triggered increase in cases of respiratory illnesses across several states. At its peak, the air pollutant index (API) recorded a “very unhealthy” level of 308 for Shah Alam on Oct 4, at 9am.

But Malaysia’s hands were mostly tied in the matter, given that the problem and solution remained in Indonesia, said Dr Varkkey.

“However, the Malaysian government can play a stronger role in pressuring Malaysian plantation companies operating in Indonesia to adhere to laws, and possibly even holding them responsible for their actions in Malaysian courts, even though the wrongdoings occurred in Indonesia.

“Singapore is trying out such a law, and this mechanism will be something to watch for Malaysia.

“If the enforcement problems mentioned above are not addressed, and if patronage relations continue to reign supreme over laws and regulations, there is little hope to end the years of haze.”

She said in the early years, smoke was normally attributed to villagers in various parts of Indonesia and, to a lesser extent, Malaysia practising “swidden agriculture”, which involved slashing and burning different parts of the jungle to make way for new crops.

But as time went by, new culprits emerged: commercial plantations and, to a certain extent, pulp and paper, said Varkkey.

“A key contributor (is) plantations opening up on peatlands. Even though peatlands are protected lands, demand for land and also other factors (like lack of villagers living here) have encouraged (usually illegal) opening of these lands.

“Peatlands are highly fire-prone when dried out in preparation for planting. When burned, it produces the thick, black, and heavy smoke that easily travels across state boundaries. And these fires are notoriously hard to put out, as they burn underground.”

She said for the annual smoke to disappear for good, governments must go beyond their “regular reactive response”.

Proactive action was needed, she said, and suggested as an example that they use aircraft to circle jungles and croplands before the burning season to warn people they were being watched.

She said Indonesian President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, had instructed his ministers to revoke licences of companies found to have used fire and this had allowed the government to identify thousands of guilty companies.

“However, it still remains to be seen if these cases will be resolved satisfactorily.

“If patronage relations prove to still be stronger than Jokowi’s clout, then we should all brace ourselves for more haze in the following years.” THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER

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Singapore ups efforts to grow clean technology, renewable energy sectors

Speaking at the opening of the Asia Clean Energy Summit on Tuesday (Oct 27), Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran revealed that the Economic Development Board had secured five new investments across the fields of solar, fuel cells, smart grids and testing services in Singapore.
Patrick John Lim Channel NewsAsia 27 Oct 15;

SINGAPORE: The Republic has increased efforts to grow the clean technology and renewable energy sectors with new investments.

Speaking at the opening of the Asia Clean Energy Summit on Tuesday (Oct 27), held during the Singapore International Energy Week, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran revealed that the Economic Development Board had secured five new investments across the fields of solar, fuel cells, smart grids and testing services in Singapore in 2015.

The companies - Intelligent Energy, Accenture, OMNETRIC Group, DNV GL and Grass Energy - have committed a total of S$150 million in cumulative business expenditure over the next five years and the creation of over 100 jobs.

Speaking at the event, Mr Iswaran said: "These investments are a strong vote of confidence of Singapore's role as an effective cleantech hub, with an emphasis on innovation, project development and financing activities."

Also at the opening, Mr Iswaran witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Singapore Power and its first batch of innovation partners, 3M and OMNETRIC Group under its Singapore Power Energy Advanced Research and Development programme (SPEAR).

The SPEAR programme is part of a S$30 million dollar initiative between Singapore Power and EDB to drive innovation, commercialisation of next generation energy network technologies, for greater reliability and efficiency throughout Singapore's grid infrastructure.

- CNA/dl

Singapore boosting efforts to develop clean energy
Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Oct 15;

SINGAPORE - Five companies have committed to investing a total of $150 million towards the development of clean energy in Singapore.

The money will be spent over the next five years across the fields of solar, fuel cells, smart grids and testing services. It will also create more than 100 jobs here.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran announced these and other developments yesterday at the second Asia Clean Energy Summit held at Marina Bay Sands.

Clean energy is viewed as a key solution to reducing pollution and the impact of climate change. Renewable energy is also becoming more attractive, due to its growing cost competitiveness and contributions to enhancing energy security.

"The haze that has affected several countries in South-east Asia has further reinforced the need for sustainable development and sustainable business practices," said Mr Iswaran.

With demand for energy in Asia expected to more than double by 2035, Singapore can establish itself as a centre for "clean technology".

This may be done through innovation and testing, not just for technology, but also in terms of business models.

The five companies investing here include Singapore-based Graess Energy, which will serve as German solar energy company Grass Group's new headquarters.

Fuel cells specialist Intelligent Energy will open its first supply chain hub outside of its British headquarters, and consulting firm Accenture will expand its smart grid capabilities by strengthening its team of experts here.

Information technology company Omnetric Group plans to open a regional hub for research and development in the first half of 2016, focusing on the development of smart grid systems.

Certification firm DNV GL will open a new test centre here to attract and support companies to develop and test network and digital substation technologies.

The Asia Clean Energy Summit also saw the signing of a partnership between trade promotion agency IE Singapore, the Asian Development Bank and the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore.

It sees IE Singapore coming on board to provide assistance for the Sustainable Energy Centre of Excellence, a regional training centre that aims to train policymakers, giving them skills for developing sustainable energy projects. The centre ran its first workshop in July.

Yesterday, utilities company Singapore Power and the Economic Development Board signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore base of US conglomerate 3M and Omnetric Group. As part of the Singapore Power Energy Advanced Research and Development programme, it will aim to develop and pilot cutting-edge technologies.

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Bird photographers stuff styrofoam into live fish to bait eagles

AsiaOne 28 Oct 15;

SINGAPORE - A group of bird photographers in Singapore are raising the ire of people on the Internet after they were caught on video pumping air and stuffing styrofoam bits into a live fish in order to bait eagles.

The incident allegedly took place on Aug 16 this year at a park in Bukit Gombak.

Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao said it understands that the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is investigating the case.

According to Zaobao's report, the photographers were allegedly trying to bait the endangered Grey-headed Fish Eagles, which feed on fish. There are only 12 to 18 such birds left in Singapore, it said.

In the video, a man can be seen injecting air into the swim bladder of a live fish with a syringe. The fish is then handed to another man who stuffed styrofoam bits into the fish through the mouth. A third man then threw the fish into the pond in the park.

The men were trying to keep the live fish struggling near the surface of the water in order to lure the eagles with an "easy meal", according to a National University of Singapore researcher that the newspaper spoke to.

The video was put online by in a report on Monday (Oct 26). The incident was reported first on the 10,000 Birds blog "after a tip-off by one Charlie Gordon, an amateur nature photographer from Singapore", Mothership reported.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) has called the photographers' actions cruel, to fish and eagles. The eagles could be harmed after ingesting the styrofoam, it said.

It also said that it has been notified of the case and has referred it to AVA.

A reader on Mothership has apparently identified four of the men in the video, showing screenshots of social media pages belonging to these men. The social media accounts of these men have apparently been deactivated or removed, but the screenshots and photos show that these men, which closely resembles the men in the video, having posted many well-taken photos of birds on social media.

This incident calls to mind a similar case last year - that of photographers tying a young bird to a shrub to get good shots of its parents. A photographer was fined $500 in that case, Zaobao reported.

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7 cats found dead in 12 days in Yishun

Foo Jie Ying, My Paper AsiaOne 28 Oct 15;

SINGAPORE - A spate of Yishun cat deaths so alarmed Nee Soon Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng that he has vowed to ensure that the people behind these "barbaric acts" are caught.

In a Facebook post last Friday, Mr Ng, who is also the executive director of the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres), wrote: "In the past month, seven cats have been found dead and one wounded, in suspicious circumstances...

"Many of you have contacted me and I share your concerns about this and want to ensure that the person (or persons) committing these barbaric acts is/are caught."

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Mr Ng 37, said: "I'm very disturbed. That's why I did the Facebook post. The AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority) and police are investigating, but they can only put out so many eyes.

"But if everyone is out there (watching), we might get somewhere."

The most recent incident, on Oct 5, involved Bushy, a community cat that was found dead near Yishun Polyclinic. It was the seventh cat to die in 12 days.

A Cat Welfare Society (CWS) volunteer who patrols the Yishun area said Bushy was found bloodied under a tree. "The night before it was found dead, it was well. My husband fed it and it was running about," said the volunteer, who declined to be named.

Late last month, a seriously injured cat was found at Northland Primary School. It had suffered blunt trauma on its back and it eventually succumbed to its injuries, added the volunteer.

Aside from the seven dead cats in the Yishun area, another feline called Greyie was also found injured at Northland Primary. It survived, but its hind legs are now paralysed.

The CWS volunteer believes that the abuse cases have been caused by the same few people due to the pattern of injuries found on the cats - blunt trauma on the spine or lower back.

Mr Ng declined to comment further on the deaths, citing ongoing police investigations.

He acknowledged that nabbing the culprits is an uphill task.

"People can say they are looking, say, for a Chinese man in his 40s, but that's very vague. It's pretty difficult to find a person like that. "There is an increased volume of patrolling because of the cat killings, but it's difficult because the area is big and we never know when these people strike," he said.

As the cats were found near open-air carparks, the MP is hopeful that the culprits may have been caught in action on in-car cameras. He said: "The footage is crucial and provides concrete evidence.

"Some people may leave their in-car cameras on all the time, but nobody reviews the footage regularly, so I'm hoping if I give the dates and locations of the cat deaths, people can check and hopefully find something."

"The (Facebook) post also sends out a message that we are watching," Mr Ng said.

Cases of animal abuse and deaths are not new and the animal rights activist hopes to put an end to these incidents through awareness of animal welfare.

There has been some progress, he said.

For instance, an angler who was caught on video trying to nab an otter pup was identified soon after the video was uploaded online.

Although alternative options such as legislation exist, Mr Ng feels that caring for animals should be intrinsic, rather than be motivated by fear.

"If we don't do something only because we might get caught, I don't think we can progress further as a society," he said, adding that animal welfare issues will be one of the causes he will champion in Parliament.

The recent Yishun cat deaths are just a subset of the rising number of cat abuse cases in Singapore, said CWS chief executive Joanne Ng. She said the CWS responds to an average of 50 cat-related cases daily.

"And that's on the low end. About 10 per cent of these cases are about cats being abandoned or injured and they are often linked to neglect.

"To me, that's not a good reflection of our society or the mental health of people. It tells me that people are highly stressed and they are taking it out on helpless animals," she said.

Another cat found dead at foot of Yishun block; 8th cat death in 6 weeks
Chew Hui Min, Straits Times AsiaOne 31 Oct 15;

SINGAPORE - Another cat was found dead in Yishun on Friday (Oct 30) morning, the eighth in six weeks.

Nee Soon MP Louis Ng appealed for witnesses on Facebook with a post on Friday afternoon.

He wrote: "I'm extremely disturbed and upset that another cat has been found dead this morning at Blk 115B Yishun Ring Road."

Mr Ng told The Straits Times that he hopes that there were witnesses or the CCTVs at the block captured something.

"A lot of units are facing that direction, so I'm hoping that someone saw something," Mr Ng said, adding that evidence is hard to come by in these cases.

Ms Veron Lau of the Cat Welfare Society said that "the cat was discovered at 10.30am by a kindergarten teacher who heard a thud".

According to Ms Lau, this was the third cat thrown from the block this year. The previous cases happened in February and April, she said.

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Rising perils of climate change

David Fogarty, Straits Times AsiaOne 28 Oct 15;

The weather has been breaking new records, with this year expected to be the warmest on record. July, August and September have been the hottest months since modern records began.

Last week, Hurricane Patricia, one of the most powerful storms recorded, slammed into northern Mexico. Earlier this month, record floods hit the US state of South Carolina.

As extremes grow, everyone will be affected, from the poorest in Africa and India to those in well-off cities such as Singapore, New York and Hong Kong.

Climate change threatens the world's food and water supplies, cities and coastlines. Sea levels are rising as the oceans become warmer, dramatically increasing the odds for storms.

Warmer and more acidic oceans are also damaging reefs and fish stocks.

Globally, the weather is becoming more prone to extreme droughts, floods and storms. Growing crops, catching enough fish and keeping reservoirs full are proving more challenging every year.

In Paris, nearly 200 nations will meet from Nov 30 to Dec 11 to try to agree on the final shape of a global pact to curb the pace of climate change.

Ultimately, the pact is about cutting greenhouse gas emissions, chiefly carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels in cars, power stations and industry. CO2 builds up in the atmosphere and oceans, trapping extra heat that is fuelling wilder weather.

Doing a deal is urgent and long overdue after previous efforts failed to deliver a pact that brings all nations on board.

"It's late. It may already be too late," French President Francois Hollande told a recent gathering in Paris of high-ranking officials, scientists, business executives, NGOs and media.

"If no substantial measures are taken, we won't be dealing with hundreds of thousands of refugees but millions over the next 20 or 30 years," he said, in direct reference to the migrant crisis in Europe.

Everyone has to get on board.

"The agreement seeks to foster international co-operation and spur ambitious climate action by every country, big or small, developed or developing, as this is the best way to address the global challenge of climate change," a spokesman for Singapore's National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) told The Straits Times in an e-mail.

A study released this month by US intelligence agencies said climate change and extreme weather were among the threats to food availability in countries of strategic importance to the US over the next 10 years. Extreme weather was also a likely cause of social and political unrest.

"We judge that weather and climate patterns to 2025 will be key in determining local and regional crop production and will be a dominant factor contributing to the volatility of food prices," said the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Africa and Asia were the regions where food security would be most affected, the report said.

Reiterating the risks, US Secretary of State John Kerry said this month that global warming was the biggest threat to global food security.

Singapore is not immune and is vulnerable to rising sea levels, hotter temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns.

And, as a global trade hub, it can be affected by weather disasters outside, from the food it imports, such as seafood, to the materials manufacturing firms need to make their goods.

Climate change can also affect investments Singaporeans make in other countries.

A study led by Australian researchers and published this month warned of a collapse of global fish stocks. A combination of warming oceans, increased acidity, pollution and overfishing would reduce the diversity of marine species.

"There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down," the study's authors warned.

Rising seas from melting glaciers and polar ice caps threaten hundreds of millions of people along low-lying coastlines, from Manila to Miami, to Lagos and London.

According to an Indonesian government report, 42 million Indonesians living within 3km of the coast are vulnerable to rising sea levels.

In a study published on Oct 13, researchers found steep cuts to emissions in the next decade are the only way to avoid substantial Antarctic ice loss and associated sea-level rise, The Guardian reported.

The study, published in the journal Nature, found that if global average temperatures rose by around 3 deg C, this would trigger accelerating ice loss that would go on for thousands of years, raising sea levels by 0.6m to 3m by the year 2300, depending on how high man- made greenhouse gas emissions remain.

But if the rise in global average temperatures remains within 2 deg C, ice loss can be minimised.

Animals will suffer too, with many forced to move to cooler areas or unable to hunt, such as polar bears, which rely on vanishing sea ice in the Arctic to catch seals and other prey.

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

The world, though, is responding to the threat and more than 150 nations have made emissions reduction pledges ahead of the Paris talks - though these pledges commit the world warming by at least 3 deg C, signalling that much more carbon belt-tightening is needed.

Many nations already see the benefits of cutting carbon pollution, such as the United States, which has put caps on emissions from power plants.

China is curbing coal use to tackle air pollution. China has invested heavily in hydro, wind and solar power and installed more renewable energy-generating capacity than any other nation.

India aims to build 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity by 2022 from about 4GW now and has set a target of 60GW of installed wind power capacity by the same year.

Globally, wheat, rice, corn and other crops are being re-engineered to cope with droughts, heat and salinity. Such collective efforts are the only way the world will be able to both adapt to and rein in the accelerating pace of climate change.

"No country is immune to the effects of climate change and no country can deal with it on its own," the NCCS spokesman said.

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Bikini islanders seek US refuge as sea levels threaten homes

Matt McGrath BBC News 27 Oct 15;

Flooding in the Marshall Islands in 2014 caused extensive damage and left hundreds homeless

About 1,000 Bikini islanders have applied to relocate to the United States as rising seas threaten their adopted home.

The residents were moved from their Pacific atoll as result of atomic bomb tests in the 1940s.

But their new home, on another of the Marshall Islands, is struggling against huge tides and increasing storms.

The islanders have now asked Washington to change the terms of a trust fund to allow them settle in the US.

In 1946 several hundred islanders were moved from Bikini Atoll by the US government, which wanted to test atomic weapons on the remote atoll.

Some 23 nuclear tests were conducted including the huge Bravo hydrogen bomb, the largest weapon detonated at that time by the US.
King tides

The islanders moved to a nearby island in the Marshall chain called Kili in 1948.

Under an agreement with the US, a resettlement trust fund was eventually established to help the Bikini residents. This would pay for construction of homes within the Marshall Islands.

But now the islanders say that their homes are being swamped by the increased ingress of sea water during king tides.

There was widespread flooding in 2011 and again this year. Salt is also creeping up from beneath Kili, threatening agriculture and water supplies. In the early part of this year the island's runway was entirely flooded, cutting off the residents.

"The people of Bikini came back to us and asked us to take this proposal to the US, to request the resettlement trust fund be used to settle people in the US not just the Marshall Islands," said Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands.

"We have not seen the final text of the legislation but the request that went in was on the basis of Kili being uninhabitable because of climate change."

The US Department of the Interior is supporting the islanders and is now proposing legislation in Congress that would change the terms of the resettlement trust.

Under an agreement between the Marshalls and the US, islanders have the right to live, work and study in the US without restrictions on the duration of their stay.

"This is an appropriate course of action for the United States to take regarding the welfare and livelihood of the Bikinian people, given the deteriorating conditions on Kili and Ejit Islands in the Marshall Islands - with crowding, diminishing resources, and increased frequency of flooding due to King Tides on their islands," said Assistant Secretary of the Interior Esther Kia'aina.

The Marshall Islands government says the experience of the Bikini islanders shows the need for a new global agreement on climate change.

They believe that a new deal can be agreed at a global conference in Paris that begins at the end of November.

One key element for the island state is that the agreement stipulate that global temperature rises be kept under 1.5 degrees C from pre industrial levels.

Minister de Brum said that from the point of view of small islands and atoll states, two degrees "cannot remain as the absolute cap for everything we are trying do in limiting global warming".

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