Sumatra fires: First culprits named

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firesEnvironmental organisations via NASA satellite data have identified a great number of fire hotspots in Sumatra, source of the hazardous smog that enveloped Singapore and parts of Peninsular Malaysia over the past week, and linked them to palm oil concessions that are owned by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean companies.

According to Greenpeace, there are “hundreds” of such hotspots linked to deforestation by fire. Palm oil companies usually burn down forest to expand their plantations after valuable timber has been cleared from the land and been sold to timber companies.

Indonesian environment minister Balthasar Kambuaya said on June 21 that a team has investigated eight companies suspected to be behind the fires and promised to reveal the companies’ names after the probe.

However, it leaked that some of the largest fires happened in concession areas belonging to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International.

Asia Pulp & Paper is based in Singapore and is one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world. Many organisations have documented that a significant portion of its raw materials come from rainforests in addition to plantation wood. Since the 1990s, various NGO’s have documented poor environmental practices of APP, including illegal logging in Indonesia, Cambodia and China. Several US companies, including Wal-Mart, Mattel, Staples and Office depot have stooped buying supplies from APP on environmental grounds.

APP said in a statement on June 21 that “ground verification” detected “only 7 points that are actually forest fire, affecting around 200 hectares of land”.

“They are being controlled by approximately a thousand fire fighting crews and their teams. Our team’s preliminary investigation found that 5 of the fires were set by the community to clear land for crops and 2 cases are still under investigation”, the company said.

Asia Pacific Resources International is a developer of fibre plantations and the owner of one of the world’s largest pulp and paper mills with operations mainly in Indonesia and China. The firm is partly owned by Indonesian business man Sukanto Tanoto who lives in Singapore. It has been accused by environmental group Friends of the Earth of fuelling deforestation of Indonesia.

Asia Pacific Resources International on June 22 issued a statement denying the allegations.

The Singapore government said it is mulling legal action against involved companies and will bring up the issue at the next ASEAN meeting in Brunei next week, and he has not ruled out appealing to other international bodies.

 

Who do you think is responsible for this haze? 

Chime in with your views on Friday, June 28 on our live discussion on Twitter. Be sure to mention us (@insideinvestor) and use the hashtag #askii, #sghaze and #myhaze (depending on where you discussing about). 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Environmental organisations via NASA satellite data have identified a great number of fire hotspots in Sumatra, source of the hazardous smog that enveloped Singapore and parts of Peninsular Malaysia over the past week, and linked them to palm oil concessions that are owned by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean companies.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

firesEnvironmental organisations via NASA satellite data have identified a great number of fire hotspots in Sumatra, source of the hazardous smog that enveloped Singapore and parts of Peninsular Malaysia over the past week, and linked them to palm oil concessions that are owned by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean companies.

According to Greenpeace, there are “hundreds” of such hotspots linked to deforestation by fire. Palm oil companies usually burn down forest to expand their plantations after valuable timber has been cleared from the land and been sold to timber companies.

Indonesian environment minister Balthasar Kambuaya said on June 21 that a team has investigated eight companies suspected to be behind the fires and promised to reveal the companies’ names after the probe.

However, it leaked that some of the largest fires happened in concession areas belonging to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International.

Asia Pulp & Paper is based in Singapore and is one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world. Many organisations have documented that a significant portion of its raw materials come from rainforests in addition to plantation wood. Since the 1990s, various NGO’s have documented poor environmental practices of APP, including illegal logging in Indonesia, Cambodia and China. Several US companies, including Wal-Mart, Mattel, Staples and Office depot have stooped buying supplies from APP on environmental grounds.

APP said in a statement on June 21 that “ground verification” detected “only 7 points that are actually forest fire, affecting around 200 hectares of land”.

“They are being controlled by approximately a thousand fire fighting crews and their teams. Our team’s preliminary investigation found that 5 of the fires were set by the community to clear land for crops and 2 cases are still under investigation”, the company said.

Asia Pacific Resources International is a developer of fibre plantations and the owner of one of the world’s largest pulp and paper mills with operations mainly in Indonesia and China. The firm is partly owned by Indonesian business man Sukanto Tanoto who lives in Singapore. It has been accused by environmental group Friends of the Earth of fuelling deforestation of Indonesia.

Asia Pacific Resources International on June 22 issued a statement denying the allegations.

The Singapore government said it is mulling legal action against involved companies and will bring up the issue at the next ASEAN meeting in Brunei next week, and he has not ruled out appealing to other international bodies.

 

Who do you think is responsible for this haze? 

Chime in with your views on Friday, June 28 on our live discussion on Twitter. Be sure to mention us (@insideinvestor) and use the hashtag #askii, #sghaze and #myhaze (depending on where you discussing about). 

Do you like this post?
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