According to our data, 99 percent of forest and land fires are caused by human activity.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), along with other stakeholders, is continuously monitoring groundwater levels in a number of peat areas to anticipate forest and land fires.

The ideal gap between the peatland surface and the groundwater level is 25 to 40 centimeters (cm), Acting Head of the BNPB’s Center for Disaster Data, Information, and Communication, Abdul Muhari, said on Monday.

If the gap widens, local residents will need to increase their vigilance against the potential for forest and land fires, he added during the "Disaster Briefing: Be Vigilant to Forest and Land Fires," which was broadcast on the agency’s YouTube channel.

He informed that BNPB is collaborating with the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Environment and Forestry Ministry, as well as National Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) on monitoring the water level.

BNPB and the other agencies are also tracking weather forecasts for natural anomalies that could cause forest and land fires as well as mapping hotspots to prepare prompt weather modification measures to prevent fires from spreading further.

In addition, the disaster mitigation agency has continued to ensure the readiness of firefighting equipment and personnel in carrying out both land and aerial firefighting, especially in fire-prone areas in Sumatra, Java, and Kalimantan islands.

Muhari urged all local governments to immediately report and seek support from the central government if they face problems in handling forest and land fires or find they cannot overcome them on their own for reasons such as inadequate budgets or widespread fires, among others.

He said that law enforcement agencies and the Environment and Forestry Ministry are also striving to strengthen law enforcement against people who deliberately burn land to open up plantation area or for other purposes in order to have a deterrent effect on perpetrators.

"According to our data, 99 percent of forest and land fires are caused by human activity. Furthermore, 80 percent of the burned land is turned into plantations," he noted.

Muhari further informed that BNPB is holding personnel gatherings every week to boost preventive measures against forest and land fires as well as strengthen public awareness about the importance of protecting the environment.

"Forest and land fires have become the concern of the President (Joko Widodo); so do not let your guard down! (All ranks of BNPB should) establish a task force and regularly conduct gatherings," he added.

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Translator: Hreeloita Shanti, Uyu Liman
Editor: Sri Haryati
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