CHIANG RAI – Dr. Anond Snidvongs, Executive Director of the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency has warned Thai Authorities that the haze in Northern Thailand may last till end of April unless fire hotspots across the border are put under control.
Dr. Snidvongs, warning comes after remote sensing images released by the National Park, wildlife and Plant Conservation Department Wednesday detected clusters of hotspots scattered in Thailand’s northern and western regions including in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
The area with concentration of hotspots are in the north and the east of Myanmar bordering Thai border from Mae Hong Son to Tak and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces.
Other concentration of hotspots were detected in Laos bordering Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, while in Cambodia and Vietnam the hotspots were sparse and not a concern.
But the hotspot map could not exactly identify the fire locations due to limitation of the satellite imagery.
Dr Snidvongs said the particulate measurement of PM10 in the North still exceeded the safety level by over 100 micrograms per cubic metre, while noting that in the Myanmar border the figure exceeded over 1,000.
He said forest fires in Myanmar are mostly close to Thai border and in areas controlled by minority groups and where the Myanmar government could hardly access to.
He said the haze in the morning was mostly caused by burnings by locals particularly in valleys, namely Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Mae Hong Son valleys.
While in the afternoon, haze came mostly from burnings across the border in Myanmar, thus worsening the haze condition, he said.
He suggested persistent and stringent effort in fighting haze, saying it should start after the rainy season last year particularly forest fires and burning in forest areas.
He said the current haze campaign was considered too late.
He also said that haze problem could not be 100% solved because most forest fires were caused by burning to prepare land for planting short lived crops such as maize.
He said it needed joint effort by all relevant agencies and effective management in making fire protection zones.
He said the haze situation in Myanmar is 5-10 times more serious than in Thailand, thus have consequences on the Thai side, same as what Singapore was affected by forest fires in Indonesia.
But he said situation in Indonesia is improving, while Thailand was affected by repeated burning from maize farming.