Parched peatlands fuel Indonesia's blazes


Fires set illegally to clear forests and peatlands for agricultural use in Indonesia are once again generating an acrid haze that has spread across that country and its neighbors. But a number of scientists say the haze emergency—which sent scores to hospitals with respiratory problems and led to school closures and flight cancellations—could have been worse. In the years since the last major haze event in 2015, Indonesia has moved to restore peatlands, making them more fire-resistant; enhanced restrictions on converting primary forests to agricultural lands; and stepped up enforcement of bans on fires. Experts praise the progress but say even more needs to be done, particularly in area of enforcement of laws holding plantation operators liable for fires on their lands even if they don't deliberately start them.

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