Farrer students offer help to cassilis fire victims
20 February 2017
published by http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au
Australia — STUDENTS from a Tamworth school are leading the charge to offer
assistance to those affected by bush fires in the state’s central west.
Senior students from Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School will travel to Cassilis in the coming weeks, where they’ve offered to fix fences destroyed by raging bush fires earlier in the month.
The project was sparked by a group of local agriculture teachers, who heard of the devastation in the area.
“We had a meeting with a couple of Ag teachers and one of the project officers from the (Education) Department comes from Cassilis,” retired teacher Graeme Harris said.
“The fire came within two kilometres of his home. We thought we’d like to get involved and provide assistance to people in that area.”
Mr Harris said the support that followed the decision was far-reaching, with the NSW Association of Agriculture teachers helping to hatch a crowd funding plan to buy the fencing materials needed. A host of other schools are also getting behind the project.
“They’ve contacted a number of people down there that are affected and are drawing up a list to identify the people that need assistance as a priority,” Mr Harris said.
”The money that we can raise from crowd funding will be then used to purchase materials.
“We’ve also been working with Clipex here in Tamworth to make a proposal to the manufacturers to deliver the materials on site.”
Mr Harris said the cause had already been assisted, with donations from the Rotary Club of Tamworth on Peel.
“We have a whole range of partners involved in this and are negotiating a financial institution to handle the funds through an account which doesn’t have high fees,” he said.
“Initially this started with Farrer students and then it has expanded to other schools.
“Staff will be taking the students down to assist on weekends, but other schools might be doing in during the week. We wanted to take students in year 11 and 12, who already had experience with fencing.”
In total, they are willing to pay US$643.5 million (RM2.8 billion) a year — large enough to make a “substantive impact on the problem” if used for land conservation and restoration, the researchers state in a paper published in February’s issue of the journal, Environmental Research Letters.
The paper’s authors, Yuan Lin, Lahiru Wijedasa and Dr Ryan Chisholm, wrote: “Our results indicate that Singaporeans experience sufficiently negative impacts of air pollution (in) their day-to-day life, or personal health during haze periods, that they are willing to trade off personal financial gain for improvements in air quality.”
Transboundary haze is a long-standing problem in the South-east Asian region, largely caused by the drainage of carbon-rich peatland as well as companies and farmers in Indonesia using fire to clear land.
Singapore experienced its worst haze episode in 2015 from September to November, with the Pollutant Standards Index hitting hazardous levels.
Since then, Indonesia has renewed efforts to prevent fires, although a state of emergency was declared last month in Riau province over forest and land fires.
The economic impact of haze pollution here has been estimated using cost-benefit analysis before, but the researchers said that the figures could be an under-estimate because they exclude impacts — such as non-hospitalisable health effects — that are difficult to infer from economic data.
The 2015 haze episode was estimated to have cost Singapore S$700 million (RM2.19 billion) in losses.
The NUS researchers surveyed 390 people in public areas from November 2015 to February 2016 on their willingness to pay, should the Singapore Government be able to guarantee good air quality year-round.
The participants, from various age and income groups, were given options ranging from 0.05 per cent to 5 per cent of their annual income, after they indicated if they were willing to support such a haze mitigation fund.
The average person’s willingness to pay was an estimated 0.97 per cent of his/her annual income.
However, about three in 10 respondents were unwilling to pay even the minimum option of 0.05 per cent of their annual income.
Wijedasa said that one of the solutions proposed for the haze problem is payments for ecosystem services.
“This could take the form of richer nations aiding better land management and restoration by making regular payments.
“Indonesia has estimated that it needs US$2.1 billion to help restore two million hectares of peatland in (the country). They have currently only received US$50 million from Norway and US$17 million from the United States.
"Could this shortfall be filled by Singapore (and other countries in the region)?”
Tan Yi Han, who is not involved in the study and is co-founder of non-governmental organisation People’s Movement to Stop Haze, said that the findings are helpful and “should motivate the Singapore Government to spend on measures to prevent haze, such as a subsidy on certified sustainable palm oil, as well as aid to support peat restoration and protection efforts in Indonesia”.
His organisation’s survey last year found that more than nine in 10 respondents were willing to pay more for certified sustainable products to help mitigate the haze, Tan said.
Most were willing to pay 5 to 10 per cent more.
Consumers game to chip in to avoid any haze include Steven Lim, who is in his 40s and self-employed. How much he is willing to contribute would depend on the amount needed to make an impact.
“Maybe S$10? Multiplied by many individuals, it would be a lot,” Lim said, preferring that the money goes to the Indonesian government.- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/money/article/singaporeans-willing-to-fork-out-1pc-of-income-to-ensure-no-more-haze#sthash.CRhWHQHj.dpuf