"Peatland areas engulfed by the fire are those on which rewetting was yet to be carried out," BRG Chief Nazir Foead told Antara here on Saturday.
The agency`s peatland restoration program, conducted since 2016 in the province, has involved the local government and public.
Foead affirmed that rewetting of peat soil was prioritized in locations close to settlements and plantations, as they have limited sources to cover all peatland regions.
"Usually, people choose peatland areas that are close to settlement and plantation areas. Hence, their houses, schools, and plantations would remain safe in case fire engulfed the peatland area," he explained.
According to data of Riau University, the province has 4.8 million hectares of peatland area, or some 51.06 percent of Riau`s total area.
"We know that more than half of Riau Province is peatland area. Peatland clearing has occurred for years, and the damage was quite extensive. A long time would be needed to restore the land," he remarked.
In 2019, fire engulfed more than 850 hectares of land in Riau. The largest fire was detected in Rupat Island of Bengkalis District, and efforts to extinguish the fire are still ongoing.
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Reporting by Anggi Romadhoni
Editing by Sri Haryati