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UN Environment Programme Statement on Southeast Asian Fires

November 6, 2015

UN Environment Programme Statement on Southeast Asian Fires

Nairobi, Kenya, 6 November 2015 - UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner issued the following statement today regarding the ongoing fires on the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Papua:
"UNEP has observed with increasing alarm the spread of forest and peat fires on the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Papua. We are deeply concerned about the effects these fires are having not only on the health of local populations, ecosystems and wildlife, but the global climate as well.

"Reports that the fires are emitting as much carbon into the atmosphere in a day as some countries are in a year reflects the global ramifications of this disaster. Locally, one-third of the endangered wild orangutans on Borneo are threatened by the fires, and biodiversity hotspots such as the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra are under extreme threat.

"While the fires this year are particularly damaging, this is an annual, systemic issue that will need to be addressed with an integrated approach over the long term. This issue spans human health, climate change and sustainable use of ecosystem services. It is important that any solution take into account the multifaceted nature of the problem.

"Of immediate need is the issuance of a national moratorium on using fires for clearing any type of forest land until fires have stopped, rains have re-appeared and, most importantly, Indonesia has rethought how to allocate and manage peatland and its forests resources. Large-scale land owners and companies will need to be held accountable for damage caused. At the same time, there must be a major effort given over to promoting sustainable business practices, including in procurement and supply chains, and raising consumer awareness of unsustainable palm oil products.

Read more at UNEP NEWS CENTRE.

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