ASEAN and Australia to cooperate on haze control

ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, (28 January) - The ASEAN Secretariat announced today that ASEAN and Australia had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a joint initiative to support the implementation of "Immediate Action Plan (IAP) Field Training Exercise for Prevention and Control of Land and Forest Fire and Haze in West Kalimantan, FY 2000/2001."
The Field Training Exercise is designed to assist the local government officers and the community in West Kalimantan, Indonesia to develop a comprehensive action plan for forest fire management and their capacity in forest fire fighting activities. Moreover, this joint initiative aims to monitor forest fires from getting out of control during the dry season and to develop a Fire Suppression Mobilisation Plan (FSMP) in West Kalimantan. Major forest fires broke out in this province from 1997 to 1999.

Under the agreement, Australia will extend a grant of US$ 173,000 to ASEAN. Indonesia's Environmental Impact Management Agency (BAPEDAL) will implement the monitoring and prevention components of the project. Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry and Estate Crops (MoFEC) will develop mitigation component, while the ASEAN Secretariat's Regional Haze Action Plan-Coordination and Support Unit (RHAP-CSU) will serve as the project coordinator.

The MOU was signed by Dr. Suthad Setboonsarng, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN and Mr. Aca Sugandhy, Chairman of the ASOEN Haze Technical Task Force, on behalf of ASEAN, and Mr. Titon Mitra, on behalf of the Australian Government.

Australia's head aid official in Indonesia, Mr Titon Mitra said, "Australia was quick to respond to the serious fires of 1997-98, with water bombers and fire fighting support. However reactive measures like this aren't the answer to stopping the fires. Concrete measures in planning and prevention, such as the IAP for West Kalimantan are very important."

Apart from helping to fight the fires of 1997-98, Australia has also supported the development of a National Haze Action Plan for Indonesia and funded an assessment of national fire fighting capacities.