PUTRAJAYA, Aug 30 — The Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC) has issued a letter regarding measures to prevent open burning in plantation areas to Malaysian plantation companies, subsidiaries, and Malaysian-linked companies operating in Indonesia.
Its minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the letter is intended to remind the companies to take preventive measures to prevent the occurrence of plantation and peat fires, which are the leading causes of transboundary haze pollution in the region.
In a statement issued today regarding measures to prevent open burning and cross-border haze, he said pertinent efforts will continue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the representative offices in Indonesia.
The government has taken several measures to curb open burning, including activating the National Open Burning Action Plan on April 2, 2023; increasing the frequency and area of patrols and air monitoring through drones in high-risk and fire-prone areas; and continuous monitoring of the current air quality status through 65 automated stations of the Department of Environment (DOE).
“The public is also advised not to conduct open burning and allow their land or premises to be encroached upon by irresponsible parties, as this could result in open burning for an intended purpose or unintentionally,” Nik Nazmi said.
According to the DOE record, 57 compounds were issued between January 1 and August 28, 2023, with two cases subject to court action under Section 29A of the Environmental Quality Act of 1974.
Implementing preventive measures is necessary as the country will experience a reduction in rainfall and drier weather due to the Southwest Monsoon, which started on May 15 and is expected to last until this September.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), in a statement issued on May 9, said the Southwest Monsoon was expected to begin on May 15 and continue until September 2023.
It said lower rainfall was expected to occur in most places during the period, and the wind blowing consistently from the southwest with lower air humidity and a more stable atmospheric condition would cause less cloud formation.
On the Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS), which has been used by Asean countries since 2003, Nik Nazmi said MetMalaysia had made improvements to the system by adding a new element, namely a seven-day forecast to monitor the potential occurrence of fire and its intensity.
According to the MetMalaysia website, FDRS is a system that monitors the risk of forest or vegetation fires and provides information that assists in fire management.
The FDRS products can be used to predict fire behaviour and provide a guideline for policymakers in developing actions to protect life, property and the environment.