Regulating trans-boundary haze in Southeast Asia

Authored by: Lahiru S. Wijedasa , Zeehan Jaafar , Mary Rose C. Posa , Janice S.H. Lee

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Development in Asia

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138182189
eBook ISBN: 9781351008204
Adobe ISBN:


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Lahiru S. Wijedasa, Zeehan Jaafar, Mary Rose C. Posa and Janice S.H. Lee contribute a chapter on “Regulating trans-boundary haze in Southeast Asia.” In this chapter, the authors describe the causes of and proposed regulations for trans-boundary haze. In particular, the tropical peat swamp forest ecosystem (TPSF) in Southeast Asia, covering over 200,000 km2, represents a significant carbon pool. Over the past three decades, TPSF have been deforested at an alarming rate and converted to large and small-scale plantations. The loss of TPSF is strongly associated with fire, especially because anthropogenic disturbances adversely impact hydrological processes and make peat soils vulnerable to ignition. In addition to the globally significant amounts of carbon dioxide released, particulate matter from peat fires cause a persistent trans-boundary air pollution, also commonly referred to as ‘haze.’ The authors find that small wins against Southeast Asia’s trans-boundary haze can be found in the penalization of companies for fire activity, consumer action to limit purchases from companies associated with burning and the successful engagement of local communities for fire prevention, but in the long run, clarifying land tenure procedures, ensuring peatland protection, and aligning agricultural development policies with ecosystem protection, hold the keys to a sustainable solution for the fire and haze problems in Southeast Asia.

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