Peat Area and Water Management

peat origin

The worsening haze problem in Southeast Asia has been attributed to the improper peatland management. Peatland utilisation is said to raise issues such as the degradation of the tropical peat swamp forest ecosystem, peat subsidence, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to a certain extent, peat fires.
Most of the transboundary haze episodes in peninsular Malaysia came from forest fires in Sumatra, particularly from the peatlands. These fires were anthropogenic and according to Suyanto (2004) most fires were set deliberately to convert land for oil palm plantations as well as for the government-sponsored transmigration schemes. Smallholders also used fire as a tool to clear and prepare their land for crop cultivation. The peat burns as smouldering fires that often spread below the soil surface and are difficult to extinguish. Unlike complete combustion, peat fires burn slowly with partial or incomplete combustion that produce heavy smoke and emit insurmountable particulate matters that degrade air quality and reduce atmospheric visibility. Thus, peatland fires are the main source of what has become known today as ‘transboundary haze’.