Jakarta (ANTARA) - The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has prepared a number of measures ranging from ground to air operations to prevent forest and land fires in Indonesia.

Head of the BNPB Suharyanto said that the agency will focus efforts on six provinces that regularly experience land and forest fires—Riau, South Sumatra, Jambi, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan.

"But it does not rule out the possibility of forest and land fires in other provinces. We will also take precautionary measures," he informed at a press conference on “Preparation for the 2023 Land and Forest Fires” in Jakarta on Wednesday.

A ground operation will be carried out to extinguish hotspots before they are enlarged, he said. This activity will be carried out together with the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), National Police (Polri), and personnel from the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

The air operations supported by BNPB will involve the use of patrol helicopters and water bombing helicopters, which will douse water with chemical mixtures, to extinguish fires immediately, he informed.

Apart from that, the agency will also utilize weather modification technology to cause rain and put out fires.

The utilization of weather modification technology, formerly known as artificial rain technology, is a part of efforts to prevent forest and land fires by wetting peat, Suharyanto informed. This method was found effective in handling forest and land fires in 2020.

Meanwhile, Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya emphasized that the government will not condone private companies that cause forest and land fires.

The government will immediately issue a warning to a company if a hotspot is found, she said.

"Law enforcement methods like that are the best. So, if a fire is detected on private land, the government will give a warning to the company," she added.

Earlier, the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that forest fire disasters were expected to increase this year and had the same potential as those recorded in 2019.

The phenomenon of La Nina, which is weakening and entering a neutral condition, can cause a decline in rainfall and increase the potential for the development of hotspots in forest areas and on land. In fact, the neutral condition is very close to and almost coincides with weak El Nino conditions.

BMKG has predicted reduced rainfall this year compared to the one recorded last year and three years ago, even though currently, the peak of the rainy season is still on.

Related news: West Kalimantan Police handled 224 land, forest fires in 2019-2022
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Translator: Sugiharto Purnama, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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