EARTH WIRE -- President Jokowi calls for increased vigil against forest fires

EARTH WIRE -- President Jokowi calls for increased vigil against forest fires

Presiden Joko Widodo (Jokowi). (ANTARA/Puspa Perwitasari)

Although I know it would be impossible, however, we have to work hard to anticipate it."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has reminded ministers and regional authorities to remain vigilant against forest fires, starting from early this year.

"It is only January, but it is already dry. Hence, do not be careless. The BMKG (the meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency) has forecast that 2017 will be drier as compared to 2016," Jokowi remarked at the State Palace, here, Monday, while opening a coordination meeting on forest and plantation fires.

The meeting was attended by Commander of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) General Gatot Nurmantyo; National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian; Coordinating Minister for Political, Law, and Security Affairs Wiranto; Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya; South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin; Jambi Governor Zumi Zola; and several other governors.

Forest and plantation fires had affected 2.089 million hectares of area and inflicted financial losses worth Rp220 trillion in 2015.

The 2015 wildfires affected commercial flights, offices, businesses, schools, and public health.

Some 504 thousand people suffered from respiratory ailments, and flora and fauna habitats were damaged, as 2.6 million hectares of forest areas were gutted by wildfires.

"Hence, we have to anticipate and prevent the 2015 fires from recurring. We should be grateful that in 2016, (the number of hotspots of forest fires) dropped by up to 82 to 83 percent, and we hope that it would further decrease in 2017," the head of state noted.

Based on monitoring data of the NOAA satellite, the number of hotspots in 2016 had decreased by 82.14 percent compared to that in 2015, while the Terra and Aqua satellites showed that the drop was 94.58 percent.

Jokowi urged concerned stakeholders to prepare early preventive measures against wildfires.

"On this good occasion, I would like to thank everyone who has carried out this big job," he remarked, adding that he was optimistic of zero hotspots being recorded this year.

"Although I know it would be impossible, however, we have to work hard to anticipate it," he pointed out.

In 2015, a 150-day emergency response period was declared, while in 2016, it was nil, according to Minister Wiranto.

(Reported by Desca Lidya Natalia/Uu.F001/INE/KR-BSR)

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