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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Causes of Haze

Last Year's Haze

Last year’s appalling haze crisis in Indonesia and its neighbours in Southeast Asia was the result of around two million hectares of land in flames in order to clear land for palm oil plantations and pulpwood production. A stark example of the environmental impact of this regular land clearing is that one century ago, there were approximately 315,000 Sumatran orangutans but today there are less than 60,600. But not only has the rich biodiversity of Indonesia been adversely impacted, the fires also exposed 50,000 Indonesian citizens to air pollutants that caused respiratory illnesses. Let alone the damage to the economy caused by disruption to business and services in Indonesia and neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. And while the worst of the effects of the haze have subsided, the underlying problem has not been solved. An annual event since the 1980s, the haze has progressively worsened as the demand for products containing palm oil has increased.
Image courtesy to Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace. Image from PM Haze

The Main Causes of Haze


The clearing of land allows dry gas and dry fuels above the ground to spread fires faster and easily.  

Farmers mostly use the 'slash and burn' technique to get rid of forests. Burning forests is the easiest and fastest way of getting rid of crops. The land is then used for palm oil plantations and pulp wood productions.

Indonesia is the 5th most largest Greenhouse gas emitter. If Indonesia continues like this till 2050, then 169 million tons of carbon dioxide will be released into the air.

Indonesia has lost 840,000 hectares of forests, which is roughly the amount of 1 million football fields.

- Drainage of Peatlands

Peat Lands are huge pieces of land covered with peat. Peat is a type of soil that consists of decomposed plant matter,(e.g. twigs, roots, stem and leaves). Peatlands are found in swampy areas and waterlogged areas. Peatlands are crucial to balance the ecosystem as they stabilise climate conditions and control pests.

Due to excessive drainage of water in peatlands, the organic material sinks and dries out.  Dry peat can burn underneath the ground for a very long time. This can make a severe impact on the world around us.

- El Nino Effect

- The El Nino Effect is an abnormal warming of the tropical pacific ocean which is associated with severe droughts. As it makes environmental problems worse by creating a dry session. 

- Conflict between farmers

Conflict between farmers is very common in Indonesia, as many farmers do not have legal land certificates to prove that they can burn a certain piece of land. Due to lack of legal land, groups of farmers may claim a piece of land to themselves. This leads to conflicts and fire being used as a weapon to burn land. This mismanagement causes more forests to be burnt and the haze to occur.

Sources used on this page (Bibliography)

"Overview of Causes." PMHaze. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <>.
"Open Statement: Should We Be Complacent About the Haze?" WWF. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. <>.

"WWF: Singapore's Haze Underscores Need for Action Against Irresponsible Companies." WWF -. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015. <>.

"The Haze." WWF -. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. <>.

Fogatry, David. "Indonesia Set to Be World's No.3 Air Polluter." The Sunday Times [Singapore] 18 Oct. 2015: A6-A7. Print.

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