6 June 2024

The air quality in several northern and north-eastern provinces, including Chiang Mai, is deteriorating to a level which may pose a risk to people’s health, due to an increase in forest fires in Thailand and Myanmar.

Today (Wednesday), Suomi NPP satellite images, from Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), show there were 1,060 hot spots yesterday, 318 more than the previous day. 301 of them were detected in forest reserves, 254 in conserved forests, 248 in farming areas, 146 in land reform areas, 104 in local communities and 7 along highways.

110 hot spots were detected in Chiang Mai province alone and another 92 in Lampang province.

According to GISTDA, 4,212 hot spots in Myanmar were also detected, 2,479 in the Lao PDR and 1,743 spots in Cambodia in the same period.

GISTDA said that the hot spots have been spreading within and outside Thailand, leading to increasing levels of PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere in northern and north-eastern provinces of the country, as it expressed concern over the steady increase in the number of hot spots in neighbouring countries, because winds have been blowing the dust particles across the border into Thailand.

Most hot spots in and around Thailand are being caused by farmers burning waste and villagers setting fires in forests as they hunt wild animals, collect forest produce or clear vegetation ahead of the rainy season, expected in May. The first rains will promote the growth of bamboo shoots, which are picked for consumption or sale.