Environmental groups urged Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday to take urgent action to put out forest fires that have raged for weeks on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
Air quality has reached unhealthy levels, and is hazardous in some parts, after thick smog blanketed six provinces on the islands, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.
“The government’s emergency response has been slow, while people continue to suffer, especially children and the elderly, as a result of the haze,” a group of 12 non-governmental organisations said in an open letter to the president.
The groups urged the government to immediately send medical personnel to treat victims for free and evacuate the most vulnerable citizens to safe locations.
Thousands of schools have been closed on Sumatra in recent days as visibility was reduced to as low as 200 metres.
The dry season in Indonesia is expected to last until October.
The National Disaster Management Agency said last week that fires had destroyed more than 328,000 hectares of plantation and forest across the country this year, mainly in six provinces on Sumatra and Borneo.
The government said it had deployed more than 9,000 personnel and 40 helicopters and aircraft to douse the fires.
Haze has also blanketed parts of Malaysia and forced the closure of more than 400 schools in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo last week.
The smoke from forest fires in Indonesia often spreads as far as neighbouring Singapore and Thailand.
Edited by Fatima Sule/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
Iran close to containing forest wildfire in southwestern region
The Iranian authorities have largely contained the forest wildfire in the southwestern mountainous region, Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported Tuesday.
Mohammad Javad Ashrafi, the managing director of Environmental Protection of Khuzestan Province, said the rescuers are working to bring the stretch of fire under full control.
The fire outbreaks in the west, southwest and south of Iran over the past weeks have completely burnt more than 300 hectares of forests and grasslands in Gachsaran County of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province as well as 200 hectares of forests in other parts of the province, according to the latest reports.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and Army on Sunday deployed helicopters to the forests of the Zagros Mountains in the west and southwest of Iran to fight the fire.
Osun Govt. warns forest poachers against hunting in government reserves
The Osun Government on Monday warned forest poachers in the state to desist from hunting and killing animals in government reserves across the state.
The State Commissioner for Environment and Sanitation, Mr Sola Oladepo, and Mr Rufus Oyegbile, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Environment and Sanitation, gave the warning while speaking to newsmen on the activities lined up to commemorate the 2020 World Environment Day.
Oladepo said poachers whom were fond of gaining unpermitted access into government reserves across the state to hunt and kill animals had been severely warned to desist from the illegal act.
“Forest reserves serve as natural habitats for animals. And going by this year’s theme, “Biodiversity”, killing of animals in the reserved areas is illegal as such places are eco-tourist centres for the government.
“Henceforth, anybody caught hunting in the government reserves without permission will be dealt with according to the law,’’ he said.
The commissioner highlighted the efforts of the state government in preventing flooding in the state such as dredging of rivers and the roles played by the state Waste Management Agency (OWMA) to ensure that the state was kept clean.
He disclosed that other environment-related programmes were also being carried out by the state government with the aim of making lives safe and meaningful for the people of the state.
He said that as part of the programmes lined up for the environment day celebration, there would be environmental sanitation throughout the state on Thursday.
“I call on all market men and women to come out and clean their environment in commemoration of the day,’’ Oladepo said.
It is a day set aside by the United Nations for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment.
Iran deploys military helicopters to fight fire in forests
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Army on Sunday deployed helicopters to the forests of Zagros mountain in the west and southwest of Iran to fight fire outbreak, according to local media.
The move came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the day issued an order to the relevant institutions to emergently respond to the fire spread in forests of Bushehr, in south of Iran, and Khuzestan, in southwestern Iran.
The IRGC and Army had already sent seven helicopters to Gachsaran and Dehdasht forests in southwestern Iranian province of Kohkilouyeh and Boyerahmad and Behbahan in Khuzestan Province.
According to the latest reports, the fire eruption in the west, southwest and south of the country over the past weeks has completely burnt 300 hectares of forests and grasslands in Gachsaran as well as 200 hectares of forests in Kohkilouyeh.
Biodiversity at risk as forests cut down “at alarming rates”: FAO
The world‘s forests continue to be cut down at “alarming rates,” the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) said in its State of the World’s Forests 2020 report released Friday.
The 188-page report, which caps a decade of studies on biodiversity under the oversight of the United Nations, examines the contributions of forests and of the populations that use and manage them, with an eye toward forest conservation.
According to the report, forests occupy less than a third of the world‘s land, but they account for 80 percent of all amphibian species, 75 of bird species, 68 percent of mammal species, and around 60 percent of all vascular plant species. But that biodiversity is at risk, the report said.
“Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity,” the FAO report said.
The report added that over the last 30 years at least 420 million hectares of forests have been lost to land-use changes, mostly to agricultural development, or in some cases for the production of wood. The lost forest land is roughly the equivalent to the size of the north African country of Libya, FAO said.
The news is not all bad, however. The report said the rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years, from around 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 10 million hectares per year over the last five years.
FAO headed the production of the report in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program. Rome-based FAO is headed by Qu Dongyu, a former vice-minister of China‘s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
Army commences “Exercise Kun Gama” at Falgore Forest, urges residents not to panic
The Nigeria Defence Academy and Depot Nigerian Army would commence a joint field training exercise tagged ” Exercise Kun Gama” at Falgore Forest Camp Base along Tudun Wada- Falgore Saminaka Road.
A statement issued on Monday in Zaria by Capt. Audu Arigu, Assistant Director, Public Relations, Depot Nigeria Army Zaria, said the exercise would take place between May 6 and May 20.
Arigu said that the Cadets of Short Service Course 46 and Recruits of 79 Regular Intake would have the Joint Field Training.
He added that the exercise would involve firing of live ammunition using small arms and Artillery guns, stressing that the authority has put in place safety precautions to ensure a safe and hitch-free exercise.
“Residents around Tundun-wada, Falgore village, Kwanar Dan Gora and Takatsale in both Kaduna and Kano states are advised to go about their daily activities without any form of panic,” he said.
Arigu also advised the general public to stay clear of the exercise area within the period.
Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Ifeyinwa Omowole (NAN)
World Bank provides 148 mln USD to Uganda for forest management, protection of tourism sites
World Bank board of executive directors has approved financing of up to 148.2 million U.S. dollars to enable Uganda to improve forest management and protect tourism areas.
The Bank in a statement issued on Monday said about 78.2 million dollars of the financing is a concessional loan, while 70 million dollars is a grant that includes 58 million dollars for refugees and host communities.
The money will be used in the Albertine landscape and the refugee-hosting areas in northern and western Uganda.
According to the global financial institution, the Albertine landscape is central to Uganda’s tourism industry, which makes a major contribution to the country’s economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings and jobs.
The project will also invest in plantation forestry and wood value chains with the aim of enabling plantation forestry to become a strong and self-sustaining economic sector.
“This project is timely and will provide vital assistance to vulnerable communities that depend on forests to withstand climate shocks and complements our ongoing efforts to scale up support to the tourism sector which has been severely impacted by COVID-19,” said Tony Thompson, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda.
In refugee-hosting areas of northern and western Uganda, the project will support forest management in selected protected areas and aims to increase tree cover in the host community landscapes supporting agroforestry and woodlot establishment.
According to the Bank, the continued inflow of refugees combined with existing and protracted refugee situation has exacerbated a range of ongoing environmental impacts and associated challenges.
Uganda hosts some 1.4 million refugees and is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and the third largest worldwide, according to UN figures.
Chernobyl forest fire still smoldering as nearly 1,400 rescuers work at site
A total of 1343 rescuers and 299 vehicles are still working on putting out the smoldering remaining at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) stated on its official website on Tuesday.
“As of 7 am on April 21, SESU continues to assist the State Agency on Exclusion Zone Management in putting down the fires at the territory of Korogodsky, Lubyansky, Paryshivsky, Dityatkovsky, and Denysovichsky forestry… 1343 people and 299 vehicles, including three helicopters, which carried out 189 water discharges, equal to about 378 tons of water on April 20,” the message published by the Emergency Service reads.
Currently, the rescuers are using SESU heavy machinery and an additional eight Armed Forces trucks to create firebreaks in the exclusion zone.
Head of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine Mykola Chechetkin informed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 14 that the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone fire has been extinguished, while the rescuers will need a few more days to put out smoldering.
Overall, the firefighters have been working for three weeks, trying to quench the blaze that started on April 4 some two hours north of the country’s capital of Kiev, near the border with Belarus.
While investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the forest fire, police have detained two people suspected of triggering the blaze by setting dry grass on fire in the area.
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is located some 110 km north of Kiev and witnessed one of the worst nuclear disasters in human history on April 26, 1986. After a meltdown and explosion of the plant’s reactor, a large tract of land around the facility was designated as a forbidden zone.
After radiation levels decreased, the 30-square-km area around the plant was officially opened to tourists in 2010.
Military kills several Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest –DHQ
The Defence Headquarters says the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole, has killed several Boko Haram terrorists and destroyed their logistics facility within the Sambisa Forest in Borno.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Enenche said that the feat was achieved in an air interdiction mission executed on April 16 as part of ongoing operations to destroy the terrorists’ capabilities before they can be brought to bear against land forces and other targets.
He said that the air strike was conducted after series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions confirmed that makeshift structures, hidden under the dense vegetation of the area, were being used by the terrorists to store their logistics as well as house their fighters.
“Consequently, the Air Task Force dispatched its fighter jets to attack the hideout, leading to the destruction of some of the structures as well as the killing of several terrorists.
“Post-strike battle damage assessment showed the logistics facility engulfed in flames.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria, in furtherance of the objective of restoring peace and security in the North East, will sustain the offensive against the enemies of our Nation,” he said.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
Ukraine: Chernobyl Forest fires under control after week-long battle
Ukrainian Authorities on Tuesday announced that there were no longer any major fires in the area, after more than a week of battling forest fires in the radiation contaminated Chernobyl exclusion zone.
According to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, there is no open fire again, but just a slight smouldering of the forest floor.
“More than 400 firefighting personnel were working in the area on Tuesday to complete the job. Recent rainy weather has complemented the service’s efforts.
“Environmental experts feared that the fires could stir up radioactive ash in the ground, potentially blowing contamination-laden smoke to the capital Kiev,“it said.
The 1986 reactor meltdown and explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, about 100 kilometres North of Kiev, is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history.
However, authorities assured on Tuesday that radiation levels in Kiev did not exceed natural background values.
A senior environmental official, Egor Firsov, said amid the beginning of the fires more than a week ago that radiation in the Chernobyl zone was detected at 16 times higher than normal background levels.
Firefighters have been working to extinguish the fires in the predominantly uninhabited zone for 10 days, with strong winds in recent days having complicated their efforts.
Meanwhile, the current extent of the blazes had not been disclosed. However, authorities citied data from a couple of days earlier, saying the fires had covered a total area of about 3,500 hectares.
Authorities had attributed fires in the Chernobyl zone and elsewhere in Ukraine in recent weeks to relatively dry conditions after a winter that lacked sufficient snow cover.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Rabiu Sani Ali (NAN)
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