Finding solutions to forest fire in Indonesia



Posted on 28 November 2012  | 
Smoke clouds from forest fires in Kalimantan
© WWF Canon / Alain CompostEnlarge
As a country with substantial forest area, Indonesia plays an important role as the lungs of the world.

Lately, Indonesia's forests have been facing a tricky problem. In addition to deforestation and logging, intense forest fires are occurring almost every year and are a significant problem difficult to overcome.

Forest fires have also hit the international spotlight as they are considered a threat to sustainable development, directly impacting ecosystems and biodiversity as well as contributing to carbon emissions.

In late 1997, early 1998, and in 2006, the world could see the sad and terrible effects of these fires when one destroyed millions of hectares of tropical forest in Indonesia. The incident left a devastating path through both Sumatra and Kalimantan, forming a thick blanket of smoke which was seriously endangering human health. The fire also jeopardized air travel security and caused huge economic losses across the region as well as causing a number of complaints from neighbouring countries.

According to WWF Indonesia’s Forest Fire Coordinator, Dedi Hariri, the main cause of forest fire comes from human factors due to several different activities including the conversion of land for farming and plantations.

"Usually these activities (clearing and land conversion) are done by the community and the company by fire. The current practice is mostly done by burning the land unchecked, until the massive fires occur," said Dedi.

"In addition to human activities, the seasons and resulting weather conditions are an indirect cause, or contributing factors. The dry season is exploited by certain parties to open and burn the land," added Dedi.

Dedi also mentioned the additional negative effects - ecologically, economically, and politically. "For the general public, the effect that impacts most people is the smoke as it can have a direct impact on their daily activities," he said.

Smith said that all parties must be responsible. "The government and the people should place more priority on prevention, because it would be more effective to address land and forest fires."

In the long run, WWF Indonesia is involved in seeking a solution to the problem of forest fires in Indonesia. In recent years, activity in the field to reduce the fires has been conducted, including monitoring and mapping the distribution of hotspots according to land use, mapping the concessions that indicate there are hotspots in the area, and holding judicial workshops to support the law enforcement of forest fires.

"WWF is also being holding several events to anticipate fires, enabling the community to increase the capacity of land and forest fire control, socialisating zero burning, and increasing awareness of the dangers of fire. WWF Indonesia is also socialising and promoting zero burning and fire management systems to the private sector, to facilitate inter-government agencies in the region to synergize efforts to control land and forest fires, as well as to encourage local governments to issue regulations governing the control of land and forest fires," said Dedi. 
Smoke clouds from forest fires in Kalimantan
© WWF Canon / Alain Compost Enlarge

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