New aerial footage taken by Greenpeace drones shows acrid haze rising from Indonesia's fires

The drone footage filmed by Greenpeace showed acrid haze rising from dense jungle, trees reduced to fire-blackened skeletons, vast swathes of burnt peatland, and a city shrouded in haze on the Indonesian part of Borneo.
The drone footage filmed by Greenpeace showed acrid haze rising from dense jungle, trees reduced to fire-blackened skeletons, vast swathes of burnt peatland, and a city shrouded in haze on the Indonesian part of Borneo.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

JAKARTA (AFP) - New aerial footage released on Wednesday (Oct 7) showed smoke billowing from Indonesian forest fires as smog-choked Singapore's biggest supermarket chain announced a ban on products from a paper company accused over the haze shrouding South-east Asia.

The drone footage filmed by Greenpeace showed acrid haze rising from dense jungle, trees reduced to fire-blackened skeletons, vast swathes of burnt peatland, and a city shrouded in haze on the Indonesian part of Borneo.

"Companies destroying forests and draining peatland have made Indonesia's landscape into a huge carbon bomb, and the drought has given it a thousand fuses," said Mr Bustar Maitar, Indonesian forest project leader for Greenpeace South-east Asia.

"The Indonesian government can no longer turn a blind eye to this destruction when half of Asia is living with the consequences."

Fires illegally started to clear land for plantations on Indonesia's Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo have for weeks been producing thick haze that has cloaked Singapore and Malaysia, prompting the cancellation of outdoor events and school closures.

The smog-belching blazes are an annual occurrence during the dry season, but scientists have warned this year's could be the worst on record due to an El Nino weather system that has created tinder-dry conditions in Indonesia and increased the risk of fires.

Pressure mounted in Singapore, where air quality has been unhealthy for weeks, with supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice announcing the withdrawal from its shelves of all paper products sourced from Indonesian-owned Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), which has corporate offices in Singapore.

The company's suppliers are suspected of starting forest fires in Indonesia.

Meanwhile Singapore environmental and consumer groups asked home furnishings giant Ikea and retailers 7-Eleven and Watsons to certify that products they sell are not sourced from "companies accused of causing fires in Indonesia".

Ms Aida Greenbury, APP's Jakarta-based managing director for sustainability, told AFP that the company was working with the Indonesian military to fight forest fires in suppliers' landholdings, where more than 10,000ha had been affected.

"Regardless of who started the fires, we are working around the clock and bringing in additional resources to manage forest fires in our suppliers' land," she said in a statement.

"If any suppliers are found to have intentionally burned land, we will disengage with them. We are ready to step up and do more to address challenges in the landscape."