Regional Cooperation in Forest Fire Management

Beginning in 1992, as a consequence of the regional smog problems caused by land-use fires, member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) created joint activities to encounter problems arising from transboundary haze pollution. ASEAN workshops held in Balikpapan (1992) and Kuala Lumpur (1995) summarized the problems and urged appropriate initiatives. The ASEAN Conference on "Transboundary Pollution and the Sustainability of Tropical Forests" is one of the first important steps to materialize the conceptual framework proposed during the past years.

Most important in future regional ASEAN-wide cooperation in fire management will be the sharing of resources. The foci will be :

• predicting fire hazard and fire effects on ecosystems and atmosphere;

• detection, monitoring and evaluating fires; and

• sharing fire suppression technologies.

The ASEAN Fire Forum during this meeting will provide important recommendations on joint future actions. The ASEAN region will potentially serve as a pilot region in which resource sharing will be based on the fact that two distinct fire problem seasons exist within the region. While within Indonesia the fire season is mainly during the months of September to November (southern hemisphere dry season), the fire season in monsoon-influenced SE Asia is between January and May. Sharing resources means that hard and software technologies and required personnel can concentrate on the hemispheric fire problems, and even costly fire suppression equipment, e.g. airplanes, can be used more economically throughout the whole year.

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