Thailand’s National Environment Board will meet on March 15th to consider the forest fire and haze problems, after the Office of the ASEAN Secretary-General sent a “Second Level Alert” to all member countries about cooperation to cope with the related problems.
Jatuporn Buruspat, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said today (Monday) that the problems of forest fires and PM2.5 dust in Thailand’s north and north-east have become critical in the past week, due to the more than 2,500 hotspots detected in farm and forest areas in Thailand and thousands more in its neighboring countries.
According to satellite images, from the Geoinformatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GITSDA) on March 4th, there were 6,701 hotspots in Myanmar, 2,583 in Thailand, 2,125 in Cambodia, 1,434 in Laos, 147 in Vietnam and two in Malaysia.
Jatupat said that most of the hotspots in Thailand were concentrated in forests, 267 were in farming areas, 228 in community areas, 155 on land reform plots and 14 along highways.
The three provinces with the most hotspots were Kanchanaburi (597), Tak (200) and Mae Hong Son (117).
He explained that the Office of the ASEAN Secretary-General issued the Second Level Alert after more than 150 hotspots were detected in a single day.
A Second Level Alert encompasses the following actions by member countries:
- Continue actions in the prevention and preparedness level
- Carry out ground fire suppression as soon as possible to extingu9ish fire and prevent outbreak
- Fire suppression using water bombing
- Close monitoring of the burned areas
- Weekly reporting of the current situation and actions taken by ASEAN member states
According to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, they have closed 38 national parks, 20 wildlife sanctuaries, 11 forest parks and two no-hunting zones to facilitate officials in the prevention and suppression of forest fires.
Additionally, the department is in the process of closing 8 more national parks.
Most forest fires in Thailand are being blamed on humans. There are fires being caused by sugarcane farmers who are getting rid of excess leaves to facilitate the cutting of cane.