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ASEAN to share satellite data for haze monitoring

The 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have formally agreed to adopt the haze monitoring system and share satellite data to help locate fires.

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The $100,000 Singapore-developed monitoring system will be implemented in the five members of a sub-regional committee for haze - Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Thailand.

It compares high resolution satellite images with digitised land use and concession maps of fire-prone areas to locate fires and determine the culprits.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong welcomed ASEAN’s decision, which was a result of discussions at the 23rd ASEAN Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

According to Lee, the cooperation will help them track down those responsible for the haze and manage the pollution over time.

The formal agreement to share information was an important progress. “You need data on who owns which piece of land so that we can put the maps together with the satellite photos and we can make information available,” said Lee.

Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources of Singapore added that the monitoring system is ready and can start operating once data is made available from the other member states. He believes that the formal cooperation also sends a warning to plantation owners that the authorities are watching them and will hold them accountable.

According to reporters on site, Lee, together with Malaysian Premier Najib Razak and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, met after the main Summit proceeding and further discussed the haze issue.

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