PUTRAJAYA: Asean governments are implementing the Asean Peatland Management Initiative (Apmi) in a regional effort to reduce peatland fires, a major contributor to the annual haze phenomenon.
Global Environment Centre (GEC) manager Chee Tong Yiew said the Apmi came out of the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution signed in June last year.
“Under the Apmi, peatlands in Southeast Asia are to be wisely utilised through sustainable management for socio-economic and environmental benefit of the region.
“The initiative will help nations to better understand peatland management issues, thus reducing the incidence of fires and associated haze in the region,” he said in his briefing of Apmi at the Second International Conference on Advancement in Soft Soil Engineering and Technology at a hotel here on Thursday.
The little-publicised initiative, endorsed by all 10 Asean members, was adopted by the Asean Senior Officers on Environment – Haze Technical Task Force in February in Manila.
GEC has been appointed the technical and operational support agency of the three-year initiative, which ends in 2005.
Chee said the initiative would assist members in preparing their respective national action plans and support their implementation at the local level through information sharing, expertise exchange and actual development of fire prevention and biodiversity protection strategies.
In turn, Asean members will support the implementation by identifying relevant institutions and providing national experts to assist in regional activities.
Countries with significant peatland coverage will establish at least one pilot demonstration site to test new approaches to peatland management and rehabilitation. It is learnt that Malaysia will showcase the North Selangor Peatswamp Forest and another site in Sarawak as its project sites.