Indonesian minister advises maintaining vigil in wake of forest fires

Indonesian minister advises maintaining vigil in wake of forest fires

Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar. (ANTARA/Sigid Kurniawan)

Indonesia adheres to the principle of participation in the establishment of world order based on peace and not due to pressure."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia has continued to remain vigilant against forest fires, although the number of hotspots across the nation has been reduced by 70-90 percent, according to the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Forestry.

Based on data from the 19 observations conducted by NOAA18 satellite, the number of hotspots from January 1 to August 28, this year, decreased to 2,356, or 74.64 percent, compared to 8,247 during the same period last year, the ministry said in a statement posted on the foreign ministrys website.

The largest decline occurred in the provinces of Riau and Central Kalimantan.

In Riau, during the same period in 2015, a total of 1,292 hotspots were reported, while this year, it has dropped to 317. In Central Kalimantan, the number has decreased from 1,137 hotspots last year to 56 this year.

Based on observations by NASAs TERRA and AQUA satellites in the same period, the number of hotspots recorded in 2016 had decreased by 74.7 percent from that in 2015.

Last year, 11,690 hotspots were recorded, while the number dropped to 2,937 in 2016.

The significant decrease cannot be separated from the constant efforts of the integrated team working in the field. They have worked without any holidays and have even spent nights at the scene to keep the fires from spreading. Locations that are difficult to reach by land are being covered through aerial operations to extinguish the fires.

To maximize the efforts to control the fires, the provincial government has also declared the Smoke Disaster Relief Emergency Preparedness Status in provinces, such as Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, Jambi, and South Kalimantan.

Additionally, integrated patrols are being conducted to synergize efforts among parties at the community level to prevent land and forest fires. Integrated patrols involve elements of the Mangala Agni, forest police, military, police, the press, NGOs, village officials, and public figures.

The efforts to extinguish the fires by the integrated team are just one of the several steps taken by the government.

The ministry has imposed a temporary moratorium on the issuance of permits for forest management, palm plantations, and the management of peatland areas. This is one step to evaluate and simultaneously streamline the management of natural resources by taking into account environmental factors.

With regard to law enforcement efforts for controlling forest fires, the ministry has adopted a multi-door approach involving administrative sanctions and civil lawsuits.

Currently, some 30 companies are facing administrative sanctions. In addition to formal reprimands, the licenses of companies found guilty will also be revoked either temporarily or permanently.

Besides this, 10 companies are facing civil trials being conducted to improve public perception regarding justice in society, while the handling of criminal charges comes under the jurisdiction of the police.

"We respect the grievances of neighboring countries, but we do not work to handle land and forest fires due to pressure by other countries. Indonesia adheres to the principle of participation in the establishment of world order based on peace and not due to pressure," Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar affirmed.
(Tz.F001/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

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