29 April 1998
Pressure grows on Indonesias farming fire-raisers

INDONESIA is coming under increased pressure from its neighbours to stop its farmers from burning vast tracts of land.

Some fires, which are lit to clear land for plantations and development, originate in Malaysia and, to a much smaller extent, Brunei but they are negligible compared with Indonesia.

These two other countries, along with Singapore, are at the mercy of changing winds which fan smoke in their direction.

The El Niño phenomena has aggravated the problem, holding back rain that in past years extinguished the fires before they could do too much damage.

The smog is expected to linger right through until October, when the seasonal rains should be heavy enough to soak through to the smouldering peat. Tropical rainforest and endangered species such as the orang-utan are in danger from the fires.

  • Financial Times 29/04/98 page 8