Palembang (ANTARA) - The South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has forecast that this year's drought may last longer than that of 2018, so necessary preventive measures should be taken against the threats of bush and forest fires.
No rain was received during the peak of this year's dry season. Hence, to halt bush and forest fires, preventive measures are necessary since South Sumatra has peatland areas, the agency's head, Iriansyah, stated in Palembang on Friday.
It was not easy to extinguish the wild fires in peatland areas, he stated, adding that the BPBD officials had mapped South Sumatra Province's fire-prone districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, Banyuasin, Musi Banyuasin, and Muaraenim.
Due to the presence of peatland areas in these five districts, the BPBD has continued to maintain alertness. However, the agency's officials also conduct regular surveillance as a precautionary measure against the occurrences of bush and forest fires in other districts, he noted.
"All areas are under our surveillance, but we have an action priority matrix in place. Similarly, areas having rich mineral resources are also prone to the occurrences of bush and forest fires during the dry season," Iriansyah stated.
Other areas in South Sumatra Province potentially threatened by wild fires include Prabumulih and Musi Rawas as well as Penungkal Abab Lematang Ilir. Hence, preventive measures should be taken against the haze disaster as the one that occurred in 2015, he stated.
The central and provincial governments have been making attempts to restore the peatland areas in South Sumatra Province.
Last year, peatland restoration was targeted to cover some 594,231 hectares in South Sumatra to preserve the environment.
According to Head of the Regional Peatland Restoration Team Najib Asmani, the process of peatland restoration is to be completed in 2020.
Asmani noted that the peatlands included in the restoration program are located in the districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, Banyuasin, Muaraenim, Penungkal Abab Lematang Ilir, Musi Banyuasin, and Musirawas.
The special staff of the Governor for Climate Change remarked that the seven districts have wide peatlands.
The districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, and Banyuasin are vulnerable to forest fires that will also ravage peatlands, he had stated in November last year.
South Sumatra faces the problem of forest fires almost every year. In 2015, big forest and bush fires hit the province, sending thick smoke drifting as far as the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Singapore.
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