CHIANG MAI (NNT) – Chiang Mai authorities are buying dried leaves from villagers in a measure to tackle forest fires and pollution caused by locals burning dead vegetation in the province.

The local Natural Resources and Environment office has launched a scheme in 34 villages allowing residents to sell leaves and agricultural waste from forests and farms after Chiang Mai city topped the world air pollution rankings this month as burning fields and forests shroud the province in toxic haze.

The scheme has collected 17 tons of dead leaves as of Wednesday and is targeting a total of around 50 million tons.

The annual burning season stirs up toxic PM2.5 haze across Northern provinces every year, bringing a spike in respiratory problems for local residents. Some of the forest fires occur naturally but many are set by hunters to smoke out wildlife.

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