South Sumatra adopts precautionary measures to avert forest fires

South Sumatra adopts precautionary measures to avert forest fires

A bush fire erupted in a peatland in South Sumatra (Dok ANTARA /Feny Selly)

Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA) - South Sumatra's Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has taken precautionary measures by increasing surveillance in several villages in four districts to prevent bush and forest fires in the dry season, a local government official stated, Monday.

The surveillance mechanism was stepped up since the districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, Banyuasin, and Musi Banyuasin were repeatedly ravaged by bush and forest fires, Head of the South Sumatra BPBD Iriansyah stated.

To this end, his office will have added 1,500 personnel comprising those from the BPBD along with the local military and police. During the course of the last few years, 7,649 personnel had undertaken surveillance and mitigation efforts, he informed journalists here.

With an increase in the number of personnel, the recurrence of bush and forest fires that generally produce thick smog during the dry season in South Sumatra can be prevented, he remarked, adding that 756 Incident Command Posts will also be reactivated.

South Sumatra and numerous other provinces in Indonesia's Sumatra Island have been repeatedly challenged and threatened by haze, triggered by land and forest fires, over the past years.

Due to this factual reality, apart from mitigation efforts, the government has also been adopting preventive measures in the form of restoring peatland areas in South Sumatra, spanning some 594,231 hectares.

The peatland restoration process is expected to be completed in 2020, Head of the Regional PeatLand Restoration Team Najib Asmani had revealed.

The peatlands covered in the restoration program are located in the seven districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, Banyuasin, Muaraenim, Penungkal Abab Lematang Ilir, Musi Banyuasin, and Musirawas, he revealed.

The seven districts have wide peatlands, he stated, adding that the districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, and Banyuasin are prone to forest fires that will also ravage peatlands.

Hence, a long-term preventive measure is deemed necessary in the form of restoration and re-wetting or dampening of peatlands, he emphasized.

When South Sumatra Province's capital city, Palembang, had co-hosted the 18th Asian Games along with Jakarta last year, President Joko Widodo had called on related authorities to ensure that the multi-sport event was not affected by land and forest fires. Related news: South Sumatra forest fire task force identifies five fire-prone areas
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