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Africa: mapped rights in the forest
A new project of participatory mapping provides policy makers, NGOs, the private sector, researchers and communities accurate geographical information about the presence, land use and rights of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities in the Congo Basin. It is a repository for participatory mapping data and other work that has been carried out by various organizations in the region over the last decade.
Brazil: Guarani leader murdered
Guarani Indian leader Ambrósio Vilhalva was murdered on Sunday night, after decades of campaigning for his tribe’s right to live on their ancestral land. According to Survival, Ambrósio was stabbed at the entrance to his community, known as Guyra Roká, in Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul state. He was found dead in his hut, with multiple knife wounds. He had been repeatedly threatened in recent months.
Germany seizes Congolese wood
German authorities have seized two batches of illegal timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The seizure is the strongest case of enforcement of an EU law banning the trade in illegally sourced timber which took effect in March 2013. The government action was triggered by a tip-off from Greenpeace.
Coal road threat to original Forest of Hope
A proposed coal road through the Harapan Rainforest in Sumatra could undo almost a decade of good work by the BirdLife Partnership, acting with the support of the Indonesian Government. Harapan is the Indonesian word for hope. The fact that this flagship tropical forest project in Indonesia bears that name couldn’t be more appropriate this week as this amazing place is once again under threat. Despite opposition, there is a proposal to build a 50km road through the middle of Harapan Rainforest, effectively cutting this area in two and putting the already-threatened wildlife and the indigenous people who call this area home under even greater pressure.
Indigenous rights at risk in Peru
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Americas’ top human rights watchdog, has expressed grave concern over the threats to Peru’s uncontacted tribes from oil and gas companies, logging and the invasion of their lands which could "result in the death of entire peoples." Plans by the Peruvian government to expand the controversial Camisea gas project, which lies within the Nahua-Nanti Reserve for uncontacted tribes in Peru’s southeastern Amazon, puts the Indians at high risk of contact with gas workers. Uncontacted tribes have little or no immunity to imported diseases and first contact could kill them.
Congo: endangered the shy Okapi
A smaller and shy cousin of the giraffe (without the long neck), the Okapi is is unique to the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where poaching, habitat loss, and the presence of rebels, elephant poachers and illegal miners are the principal threats to its survival.
It is now ranked as endangered, the third step from extinction on the IUCN's nine-notch scale, together with the White-winged Flufftail, one of Africa's rarest birds.
Ikea linked to tropical forests destruction?
Fiber analyses prove that Ikea notebooks contain pulp from tropical forests Notebooks from the furniture store Ikea contain pulp produced by the destruction of tropical forests. This is proven by fiber analyses commissioned by the environmental organization Robin Wood. Robin Wood requests Ikea to withdraw from its product range immediately all paper products containing wood from tropical forests. Furthermore, Ikea should adjust its paper selection to 100 percent recycling paper. Ikea offers from this year on in several European countries paper products, too.
Greenpeace: forests cannot offset fossil fuel emissions
Can forests offset fossil fuel emissions? According to Greenpeace they can't. "Flawed Logic" is how Greenpeace calls the mathematics behind the offsetting scheme. According to this logic, the emissions caused by burning oil, coal and gas or other fossil carbon could be made up for by forest conservation. Using forests as an offset, the argument goes, would allow industry to keep emitting without having any detrimental effects on the climate. Now, a Greenpeace’s briefing explains why forests cannot offset fossil fuel emissions and uncovers the "flawed logic" behind that argument.
Report exposes threat to Guyana's Amazon forest
Survival International revealed plans to build a massive hydro-electric dam on the land of two unique tribes in Guyana would lead to the destruction of a unique people and vast tracts of rainforest, a new report has revealed today. The report Dug out, dried out or flooded out?, written by anthropologist Dr Audrey Butt Colson, reveals that Guyana’s government aims to push ahead with one or more dams on the Upper Mazaruni River, which would flood out the entire Akawaio indigenous people and an Arekuna community.
Malaysia: Penan protestors arrested at Murum Dam site
Police have swooped into the Murum Dam site in central Sarawak and arrested a group of Penan protestors - who were staging blockades to protest the move by the state authorities to uproot them from their longhouses following the construction of the RM4bil hydroelectric dam.
Land grabbing in Senegal: who is behind Senhuile-Senethanol?
The Reflection and Action Group on Land in Senegal, a coalition of 30 peasant and civil society organisations in Senegal, together with the internatinal NGO GRAIN and the Italian organsation Re:Common, have published today their findings on the investors behind the Senhuile-Senethanol project in Senegal. The report "Who is Behind Senhuile-Senethanol?" answer the question that had been raised in Senegal about a possible link between the project and money laundering. The study managed to unveil a complicated structure, and a troubled history, behind the project.
Southern Africa's dryland forests
Close to half of the African continent is covered by drylands, spread over 15 countries of the Sahel, and 15 countries of East and Southern Africa. These ecosystems support over 60% of Africa's people with a wide range of environmental goods and services, many of which are derived from the region's dryland forests and woodlands. The value of dryland forests stretches beyond the products they provide; beyond timber and even non-timber forest products (NTFPs). There is increasing global recognition of the multiple ecosystem services provided by forests. In addition to sequestering carbon, forests provide services related to the protection of watersheds and biodiversity.
Forests burn in North-West Turkey
Si espandono gli incendi boschivi nell’area di Uludag, nella regione di Bursa in Turchia, secondo quanto riferito dall’agenzia Anadolu. Il forte vento ostacola l'estinzione degli incendi, che hanno già fato feriti, oltre a ridurre in cenere dieci ettari di bosco. La causa dell’incendio non è ancora chiara.
Fashionable deforestation? Rayon and viscose under spotlight
Cutting ancient trees to produce more and more clothing is a rapidly expanding threat to the world's endangered forests and the communities and species that depend on them. Fashion frequently has an environmental cost that doesn't show up on the price tag. A research recently released by forest conservation organization Canopy, has found that the planet's ancient and endangered forests, from the lush tropical rainforests of Indonesia to the great northern boreal forests, are increasingly being cut down and pulped to make fabrics like rayon and viscose. Canopy has documented fiber from these rare forests turning up in suit jacket linings, dresses and skirts, t-shirts and tank tops. It's a growing and harmful trend. Last year, an estimated 70 million trees were cut for fabric production and it is projected to double in the next 20 years.
European forests go to North
According to a study carried out by the European Commission, in five European countries forests cover more than 50% of total land area – Sweden (76%), Finland (72%), Estonia (61%), Slovenia (60%) and Latvia (56%). Lithuania is 11th with forests and other wooded areas covering 39% of total land area. Ireland and the Netherlands (13% each), as well as Malta (5%), are at the bottom of the list. Forests cover 159 million hectares in the EU, 38% of the bloc's territory.
Tell the Snack Food 20: Cut Conflict Palm Oil, Not Rainforests
Expansion of palm oil plantations into Indonesia’s and Malaysia's rainforests is pushing wild orangutans to the brink of extinction. We have reached The Last Stand of the Orangutan—but it's not too late. Rainforest Action Network asks to sign a petition to ask the Snack Food 20—companies that control some of the best-known snack food brands in the world—to remove "conflict palm oil" tied to rainforest destruction and orangutan extinction from their products. Only 60,600 orangutans remain in the wilds of Sumatra and Borneo, so we’re trying to get 60,600 humans to stand up for them by calling on the Snack Food 20 to cut conflict palm oil, not rainforests.
Far far East: illegal logging in Russian taiga
A new report released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)revealed largest flooring retailer is fueling Russia’s illegal logging crisis and endangering Siberian Tigers. The report, Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers reveals that demand for hardwood flooring and furniture in the United States, European Union, Japan, and China is fueling corruption and making the world’s last temperate hardwood forests into a major epicenter for illegal logging.
Illegal clearings in isolated indigenous peoples reserve in Peru’s Amazon
Photos in an internal report by a Peruvian government agency reveal illegal clearings in a reserve in the Amazon purportedly protecting indigenous peoples living in 'voluntary isolation' and 'initial contact.' The report is based on helicopter over-flights of the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve (KNNR) made by the National Institute for the Development of Andean, Amazonian and Afroperuvian Peoples (INDEPA) on 2 and 3 February 2012.
Ancient deforestation: man or climate?
Why did Central African forests become partially fragmented between 2,500 and 2,000 years ago, leaving room for more open forest landscapes and savannah? Last year, a publication attempted to explain that it was the farming Bantu peoples who were responsible for this, through the large-scale clearing that they undertook. But several IRD experts and their partners contest this argument in Science magazine. The fragmentation of the Central African forest was the result of drastic climate change. In fact, during this period a phase of general desiccation spread from the equatorial region right to the edges of the Sahel.
Malaysia: Penan tribes against the dam
Tensions are mounting at the Murum dam in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Yesterday police arrested one man and dismantled Penan shelters. More than 100 Penan are currently blockading the dam site. The Penan, whose forest homes are due to be flooded, are demanding greater compensation, and more of the forest to be protected so they can continue to hunt and gather in their resettlement villages. The arrested man, Ngang Buling, is the Chairman of Peleiran Murum Penan Affairs Committee (PEMUPA), which was formed by the Penan to defend their rights in the face of the dam project. The 46 year old was held for nearly 24 hours, and the police have said more arrests are likely.
An other threatened habitat: Gran Chaco
The Gran Chaco is South America's second largest wilderness after the Amazon rainforest. This enormous swath of dry forest and scrubland, where every plant or tree bears thorns, is South America's second largest wilderness after the Amazon rainforest, stretching from Brazil, to Bolivia, to Paraguay. Despite its aridity, the Chaco is home to more than 3,400 plant species, 500 species of birds and 150 mammal species including jaguars, pumas, peccaries, giant anteaters and even eight different types of armadillo ranging in size from 300g to 30kg.
New protected areas in Brazil
The Brazilian government has designated 952,000 hectares of remote public land in the Amazon as two new protected areas. The two parks are located in the municipality of Maués, in the western part of the state of Amazonas. Parauarí covers 472,000 hectares, while Urupadí protects 480,000 hectares.
Biomas without criteria
NGOs in the US have complained that EU bioenergy policy is destroying US forests. US conservationists and scientists, along with with a number of European NGOs, consider the biomass criteria currently under consideration by the Commission totally inadequate to address the harmful effects of biomass production and use.
And the oil palm expand back in Africa
The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is native to to west and southwest Africa. After being planted for decades in Southeast Asia, now the plantations are coming back to the African continent. But it is no more the palm that was part of the local flora. What we now arrive, led by bulldozers of multinational agribusiness, it is an army of homogenous and rapidly growing single species of trees of the same age that are sawn to occupy precious rain forests and fields of small peasants. Cameroonians from Ebanga village realized soon what means the expansion of oil palm plantations for their own forests. The US agribusiness company Herakles Farms obtained permits to convert their forests into a large palm oil plantation their land, and this will have huge effects on the lives, of residents.
Qatar fueling deforestation
Qatar fuels the demand of Amazonian wood from Guyana. White silverballi is the commercial name for the timber of a tree (Ocotea kanaliculata), growing in the Amazon basin. Its habitat stretches form Brazil, to Colombia, and Guyana. This wood is more and more exported to Qatar.
Select Quality greenheart undressed sawnwood top end FOB prices fell slightly from US$1,230 to US$954 per cubic metre. Located on the northern coast of South America, Guyana is about the size of Great Britain. One of the world's last intact tropical rainforests covers some 18.5 million hectares, about 87 percent of the country's land area. Guyana has one of the highest levels of biodiversity of any country, with some 8,000 plant species, half of which are endemic.
Private militia firm ordered to close over Guarani killings
Brazil’s Public Prosecutors have called for the closure of a notorious security firm accused of carrying out at least eight brutal attacks on Guarani communities, and of killing at least two of their leaders. According to Survival, ranchers reportedly paid Gaspem 30,000 reais (US$ 12,700) each time it violently evicted Guarani Indians from their ancestral lands, which are now occupied by ranches and sugarcane plantations.
New Atlas: a tool to prevent misuse of the natural forest
The much awaited forest concession Atlas which identifies forest cover loss due to various practices has been launched by the National Forest Supervisory and Wildlife Resources Service (OSINFOR). This Atlas provides a tool to assess and therefore plan prevention of misuse of the natural forest. OSINFOR is the national body responsible for supervising and monitoring the sustainable use and conservation of forest resources and wildlife.
Europe's deforestation footprint is twice as big as China and Japan’s combined
The European Commission releases a study (outlining the full extent of the European Union’s (EU) contribution to deforestation. It finds that the EU consumes crops and livestock which account for 36 per cent of the global deforestation embodied in traded products, making it the largest deforester in the world. In response, FERN, the European forest NGO, has called upon the EU to develop an Action Plan to address its destructive consumption patterns. The study is the result of a 2008 Commission Communication which states the EU’s aim to halve deforestation by 2020 and stop deforestation by 2030. The Communication requested that the Commission “study the impact of EU consumption of imported food and non-food commodities (e.g. meat, soy beans, palm oil, metal ores) that are likely to contribute to deforestation. This could lead to considering policy options to reduce this impact".
Sweden: Sámi protest against British mining company
Swedish police have broken up a protest by Sámi men and women protesting against iron ore mining in a crucial reindeer herding area in the Swedish Arctic Circle. The Sámi and other activists have been blockading a mining road since early July. They have prevented workers from British-based Beowulf Mining company from drilling and exploring on the traditional land of the Sámi. The first to be removed from the protest today was 85 year-old reindeer herder Apmut-Ivar Kuoljok. In recent weeks the Swedish police have dismantled the blockade and arrested the protesters, but the protesters rebuilt the blockade after the police had left.
Global Green Groups Release Performance Milestones to Evaluate Progress of Asia Pulp and Paper Deforestation Pledge
Global Green Groups Release Performance Milestones to Evaluate Progress of Asia Pulp and Paper Deforestation Pledge Collaboration Involving Rainforest Action Network, WWF, Greenpeace and Indonesian NGOs Presents ‘Performance Milestones’ to Business Community, Other stakeholders, via Live Webinar
Asheville/Berlin/Jakarta - The Environmental Paper Network programs in Europe and North America today released seven “Performance Milestones” necessary to verify the implementation of commitments made by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) under the company’s Sustainability Roadmap - Vision 2020 and latest Forest Conservation Policy. The Performance Milestones and their auditing will help customers and investors determine whether APP effectively implements its policy commitments and can help guide action by other pulp/paper companies in Indonesia and elsewhere. The Environmental Paper Network is urging customers to insist on independent third party auditing to verify the implementation of APP commitments and the performance milestones released today.
Japanese companies buying timber linked to illegal logging in Malaysia
Japanese companies are buying timber linked to illegal logging in the endangered rainforests of Sarawak, Malaysia and labeling much of it as ‘legal’ under a government-sanctioned certification scheme, according to a new report by Global Witness. The report describes how certain Japanese trading companies and DIY stores are sourcing timber from major logging companies in Sarawak involved in systematic illegal and destructive logging. Japan has been the largest importer of timber from Sarawak, Malaysia, for the past 20 years, accounting for half of all tropical plywood exported by Sarawak.
Palm oil alert
Greenpeace revealed that palm oil producers operating in Indonesia grouped in Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are the main driver of deforestation in the country. According to Greenpeace, palm oil production was the single biggest cause of deforestation in Indonesia between 2009 and 2011, accounting for about a quarter of all forest loss over that period. That means the destruction of critical habitat for endangered species such as the orangutan and the Sumatran tiger, as well as a major release of carbon into the atmosphere.
Dropped murder case demonstrates continued impunity over Cambodian forest destruction
A provincial court in Cambodia has acquitted a military policeman and his wife who stood accused of the brutal murder of a journalist investigating the country''s illegal timber trade. Hang Serei Oudom''s mutilated body was found in the boot of his car in Ratanakiri Province on 11th September 2012. Captain An Bunheng and his wife were arrested in relation to the death but have been acquitted today due to insufficient evidence.
Squatters invade Syrian forests
Also Syrian forests are paying the price of the civil war. Squatters are invading and clearing Syrian forests, are reported by damascusbureau.org, a network of independent journalists. "He who steals from a thief is as legitimate as he who inherits from his father," said Abu Rashid, a 55- year-old farmer, after he cleared around 2000 square meters of Kfar Nabl mountain’s state-owned forestland and surrounded the area with stones. More than 50 of the residents of Kfar Nabl in the province of Idlib had done the same in other areas. The armed opposition has controlled Kfar Nabl since August 2012. Its residents have laid claim to most of the public forestland on both sides of the three-kilometer road going from Kfar Nabl to the ruins of the ancient town of Shinshrah. The area also contains a number of Roman and Byzantine-era ruins.
Ecuador: scrapped the project of a Yasuni park
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has scrapped plans to protect the Yasuni National Park, home to twouncontacted tribes, from oil drilling, despite widespread opposition from the nation. The Yasuní Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini (ITT) initiative was set up in 2007, and proposed to stop oil drilling inside the park on the condition that half the estimated value of the area’s oil reserves be raised by international backers. In 2011, the United Nations Development Programme established a trust fund to manage donations for the project, but just $13m of the total $3.6bn demanded has been raised so far. President Correa claimed on Thursday that he was left with no choice but to scrap the project, stating, "The world has failed us".
Tesso Nilo raged by fires
Fires hotspots likely got its peak this month on Tuesday (27 August) seeing the 5th largest number of hotspots (758) recorded since 1 June this year, as 26% of that found inside the Tesso Nilo complex. In June this year, EoF published data on the Indonesia’s worst fire season in recent years with serious smoke choking the region and neighboring Singapore and southern Malaysia and published some field photos. After two months, many fires are happening in Riau again where schools closed and some flights canceled due to thick haze. Dust of fires also falls to the ground in Pekanbaru and some areas in the province.
Europe failing to stop illegal timber, BBC
The British Broadcasting Service (BBC) recently aired a television programme exposing illegal logging in Congo Brazzaville. The BBC investigated illegal logging in the rainforest and the timber trail from Africa to West Europe. "It''s a lucrative trade from the stump to the checkout - BBC says - that''s leading to the destruction of new swathes of vital rainforest and begins with the loggers who risk their lives cutting down hundred-year-old trees for just £2.50 a day.
Europe: exhausted forest will soon release carbon
The European forests are exhausted. Deforestation rates and higher vulnerability to natural disturbances such as fires, storms and insects, and the following declining volume increment of trees, are leading to carbon sink saturation in forest biomass. The carbon sink services provided by European forests were predicted to be functional for decades, but since 2005 there have been signs of sink saturation, states the international team of scientists led by former EFI''s Assistant Director Gert-Jan Nabuurs, currently from Alterra, Wageningen, in their recent paper in Nature Climate Change. They looked at forest inventories for the whole European area and found that since 2005 there has been a decline in the rate of tree volume increase, and therefore also in sink capacity. This was calculated using the average annual volume of forest increment minus the average annual volume of harvest and other losses of trees.
Virunga: arrests and intimidation of local community leaders opposing oil exploration in the national park
In order to protect the project of oil exploitation in the heart of the park of Virunga, officers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) has taken hostage villagers and human right and environmental activists. The park of Virunga, one of the most important of equatorial Africa, is now of the British oil company SOCO. In open violation of the laws, SOCO has obtained exploration rights in the National Park, and now uses the army to scare local communities. The author of intimidation was identified in major Burmibi Kingi Feruzi, of the the Eighth Military Region of North Kivu. The constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, prohibits the use of armed forces for private interests.
Virunga National Park has a new enemy: Oi
Virunga national park is the size of a small country, straddling the equator in the Democratic Republic of Congo.It''s got more than its share of wonderful wildlife - not just huge numbers of unique birds, but African icons like lions, elephants, hippos, chimps and the remarkable okapi. And some very very rare gorillas. But Virunga is at risk of becoming Africa''s newest oil field. UK oil company Soco''s plan to explore for oil isn''t the only threat to Virunga - civil unrest and wars have put pressure on local people, wildlife and resources on-and-off for years. But we believe oil exploration would bring a new and unacceptable level of risk for Virunga''s environment and communities.
80% of Malaysian Borneo degraded by logging
A study published in the July 17, issue of the journal PLoS One found that more than 80% of tropical forests in Malaysian Borneo have been heavily impacted by logging. The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak were already thought to be global hotspots of forest loss and degradation due to timber and oil palm industries, but the rates and patterns of change have remained poorly measured by conventional field or satellite approaches. A research team from the University of Tasmania, University of Papua New Guinea, and the Carnegie Institution for Science documented the full extent of logging in this region.
A five-year study by the Wildlife Conservation Society gives new hope to some of the world's most endangered primates by establishing a roadmap to protect all 27 species in Tanzania -- the most primate-diverse country in mainland Africa. The study combines Tanzania's first-ever inventory of all primate species and their habitats with IUCN Red List criteria and other factors such as threats and rarity, ranking all 27 species from most vulnerable to least vulnerable. The authors then identify a network of "Priority Primate Areas" for conservation.
Guatemala: activist killed by gunmen
On the same day that Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina announced a two-year moratorium on mining, human rights and environmental activist Santos Fidel Ajau Suret was gunned down after leaving the peaceful community roadblock known as La Puya. He was a 54-year-old community activist resisting the El Tambor mine. Since March of 2012, Guatemalan community members from the municipalities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have demanded the cancellation of the American mining company Kappes Cassidy and Associates (KCA’s) exploitation license in the Tambor mountain region (originally owned and operated by Canadian mining company Radius Gold Inc.).
Amazon deforestation increasing again
DETER system, managed by the Brazilian National Space Research Institute (INPE) detected a near five-fold increase of deforestation in May 2013, compared to the same month year earlier: from 99 to 465 square kilometers. Most of deforestation, 59 percent, occurred in the state of Mato Grosso, where large-scale farms and cattle ranching drive most deforestation. Pará accounted for around a third of deforestation (29 percent).
Laos: rubber plantations fueling conflicts
The increasing global demand for natural rubber in the past few years, is fueling the massive expansion of large-scale rubber plantations in Laos. The first consequence is a wave of conflicts with local communities. About 80% of the Laos people is relying directly on the forest for their physical, cultural and spiritual well-being.
Ivory Coast: saving Côte d'Ivoire's fragile forests and people
As the Côte d'Ivoire government clears its protected forests of illegal settlers. In June, about 25,000 dwellers were violently evicted from the Niegre Forest in the Dix-Huit Montagnes region to the west of the country. Their settlements were destroyed with bulldozers. Over the last 20 years, however, illegal settlers - the vast majority of whom are non-Ivorian West African citizens - have cut down trees to grow cocoa, destroying almost 70 percent of the 34,000 hectares of protected forest in the national park Mount Peko National Park, 200 km north of Niegre.
Indonesia: pulp and paper giant blocking deforestation probe
Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and WWF have claimed that the pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) is dodging an independent enquiry into its deforestation practices in Indonesia by withdrawing from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).bOn June 22nd 2013, the FSC announced that APRIL had asked its certification bodies to withdraw all of its FSC Chain of Custody (COC) certificates.
Burning the forest for paper
According to the Indonesian NGOs coalition Eyes on the Forest,pulpwood plantation got most hotspots detected and published on an online map. 1797 hotspots are linked to the paper industry, with 930 in APRIL concessions, and 867 in concessions related to APP. It is Further 1361 hotspots were detected in palm oil concessions, and 311 protected areas. The remaining 3469 hotspot are located in areas beyond those uses including out of concession areas, and selective logging concessions.
Logging may destabilize soil carbon fluxes
Logging in temperate zones may release more greenhouse gases than previously thought by destabilizing carbon stored in forest soils, argues a new paper published in the journal Global Change Biology-Bioenergy. The research involved analysis of carbon released from forest management practices in the northeastern United States. It found that while most models assume carbon stored in mineral soils to be relatively stable, in fact intensive logging operations, like clear-cutting, trigger release of carbon from various pools above and below ground.
Indonesia on fire, paper and palm oil industry blamed
The National Agency for Disaster Management of Indonesia (BNPB) says that the number of fires in Indonesia have increased in June, especially in Riau province, Sumatra. Other areas that experienced an increasing number of fires were Jambi and West Kalimantan. The peatland fires in Riau which started last week have affected not only Riau but also neighboring countries Singapore and Malaysia. Malaysia also decided to temporarily close 200 schools and banned open burning in some areas due to the haze. The Pollutant Standards Index, Singapore's main measurement for air pollution, is above the "hazardous" classification that can aggravate respiratory ailments.