KUCHING: Sarawak will introduce staggered open burning schedules for shifting cultivators when they start land clearing activities for their new crops to minimise the haze problem.
State Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) controller Chong Ted Tsiung said staggered burning was the only practical way to reduce haze.
The idea is to ensure that not so many burning activities are carried out at the same time in a localised area, he said.
Shifting cultivators practise the slash-and-burn method to clear land for hill padi and other crops. This has been identified as a main contributor to haze.
Chong said shifting cultivators and rural farmers would start land clearing for new crops after the Gawai Dayak celebrations, adding that most of the open burning would be carried out in the dry months of July and August.
The board found that most shifting cultivations in the state are carried out in Lubok Antu in Sri Aman Division, Julau and Kapit in central Sarawak and Limbang in northern Sarawak .
We have carried out numerous educational programme and dialogues with farmers and local community leaders on (the benefits of) staggered open burning.
They will organise the locals and monitor the scheduled burning, said Chong.
In view of the current dry spell, Chong said the board discouraged open burning activities particularly in urban areas.
It is monitoring the hot spots in neighbouring West Kalimantan where open burning was reported to have been carried out.
He said also plantations and industries needed permits for open burning activities, and that the board would only consider issuing the permits if such activities did not adversely affect the environment, air quality and the health of the people.
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