Fires and haze

In June 2013, rampant fires across parts of Sumatra, Indonesia, shrouded its skies and those of neighboring Singapore and Malaysia in a thick, choking haze. The fires had devastating impacts on people and the environment and made international headlines.

Initially, the circumstances surrounding the fires were as hazy as the smoke that was wafting across Southeast Asia. Were the fires a natural disaster? If not, who started them, and why? Where exactly were they burning? Leveraging their tools, research and contacts in the area, CIFOR scientists helped to discern the drivers behind the crisis. The fires were not a natural disaster, it turned out, but rather the product of a combination of weak law enforcement, short-sighted economic interests, and lack of political and policy coordination at different levels — and across international boundaries.

In response to the haze crisis, actors across multiple sectors in the region have begun to come together and work toward joint solutions. A workshop in Jakarta in January 2014 joined stakeholders from government, business, science and civil society in an initiative to mitigate future fires and address underlying causes and impacts. The workshop aimed to provide valuable contributions for the deliberations at the Forests Asia Summit, including the consideration of a longer-term research program on fires, haze and related landscape management issues in Southeast Asia.

To read more about CIFOR’s work on the haze crisis, click here. Check back regularly to this page for more information and outcomes from the haze workshop.