BMKG Detects 12 Hotspots in Riau, Indication of Forest Fire

BMKG Detects 12 Hotspots in Riau, Indication of Forest Fire

Tuesday, 25 September 2018 | 13:06 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Pekanbaru – Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) detected 12 hotspots in Riau Province, which became an early indication of forest and land fire, on Tuesday morning.

Based on the data from BMKG Pekanbaru Station that was updated at 7:00 am, Riau still dominates the number of hotspots on Sumatra Island since the beginning of this week. In total, there are 23 hotspots in Sumatra, and 12 of them are in Riau.

There are five hotspots in South Sumatra, three in Lampung, two in Bangka Belitung, and one in Bengkulu.

Head of BMKG Pekanbaru Station, Sukisno stated the number of hotspots increased compared to on Monday afternoon, September 24, which was 11 hotspots. Of the 12 hotspots, the most were in Pelalawan District, five hotspots.

In Siak and Meranti Islands, there were three hotspots and Indragiri Hulu has one hotspot. In addition, there were two hotspots that have a level of confidence above 70 percent. “These two hotspots are in Pelalawan and Meranti Islands,” he said.

ANTARA

Source Link: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/09/25/206921950/BMKG-Detects-12-Hotspots-in-Riau-Indication-of-Forest-Fire

Bromo national park probes cause of 65-hectare wildfire

Bromo national park probes cause of 65-hectare wildfire

Aman Rochman | The Jakarta Post

Malang, East Java | Mon, September 3, 2018 | 01:59 pm

The management of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS) in East Java is investigating the cause of a wildfire that burned at least 65 hectares of the park’s savannah and vegetation on Saturday.

The fire had been extinguished by Sunday afternoon, but local residents said on Monday morning that fire had again broke out in the area.

TNBTS head John Kennedy said the park was continuing with its investigation.

“The cause of the fire is still under investigation,” he said on Monday. “It is estimated that the fire burned 65 hectares [of Savannah],” he added.

The fire, which burned through the Pentongan Block of the Laut Pasir (Sand Sea) Tengger Resort, reportedly broke out around 9:45 a.m. local time on Saturday.

Initially, the park deployed 15 personnel to put out the fire. The team was later joined by officers of Malang regency’s Poncokusumo Police and 83 local residents.

But the fire continued to spread, said John, and that around 320 people from the area joined the firefighting effort.

John said that the park management temporarily closed on Saturday the Jemplang entrance on its Malang side. The entrance was reopened after the area was deemed safe for visitors.

“We reopened the [Jemplang] entrance on Sunday afternoon. Tourism activities are normal,” he said.

By Sunday evening, most of the fire had been extinguished except for several hot spots on Mount Watangan. (sau)

Source Link: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/09/03/bromo-national-park-probes-cause-of-65-hectare-wildfire.html

Fires and haze return to Indonesia as peat protection bid falls short

Fires and haze return to Indonesia as peat protection bid falls short

by  on 29 August 2018

JAKARTA/PONTIANAK/PEKANBARU — Like their compatriots across Indonesia, a group of residents in the Bornean city of Pontianak celebrated the country’s Independence Day on Aug. 17 with a flag-raising ceremony.

But for them, the simple act of hoisting the Red-and-White was a physically taxing endeavor, thanks to the toxic haze billowing from a smoldering plot of peatland nearby. The sound of wood crackling in the fire could be heard as the participants, their surgical masks doing nothing to keep the smoke out of their eyes, stood through the ceremony. When it was over, they returned to what they were doing: working to put out the pockets of fire flaring up from the mulch-rich peat soil.

Beni Sulastiyo is one of the leaders of this group of residents of Pontianak, the capital of the province of West Kalimantan, who have banded together as volunteer firefighters. He says they see the fire problem as something that the whole community, and not just the government, needs to address.

“This should be a shared responsibility for everyone. As members of the community, we’re on the same page in helping the government,” he says.

Ateng Tanjaya is nearly 70, and has worked as a volunteer firefighter in Pontianak for more than 40 years. The work is often thankless, he says, and the hardships legion: lack of hoses and fire equipment, shortage of water, and scant funding and logistical support.

For these volunteers, the fires won’t end any time soon. The dry season is kicking in, and after a relatively haze-free 2016 and 2017, conditions this year look ripe for the fires to grow out of control.

Deadly heat

There have been nearly 2,200 fire hot spots recorded across Indonesia between Jan. 1 and Aug. 14, according to the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the country’s leading green NGO. West Kalimantan recorded the highest number of any province, at 779.

At least four people are confirmed to have died in the fires in the province. The latest victim, a 69-year-old farmer in Sintang district, reportedly died while trying to put out a blaze on his land on Aug. 19. Six days earlier, a family of three in Melawi district died in their burning house.

In Pontianak, the haze has sometimes been so thick that visibility is limited to 5 meters (16 feet). Flights into and out of the city’s Supadio International Airport are under constant threat of being cancelled or diverted whenever visibility drops below 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). Elsewhere across the province, schools were ordered shut on Aug. 20 when the haze worsened.

Satellite imagery from the Global Forest Watch platform shows smoke plumes in the most affected areas, including Pontianak and Ketapang district.

Air quality in Pontianak has been declining in recent weeks, according to data from the national weather agency, the BMKG, uploaded to the global monitoring platform IQAIR Air Visual. This has been marked by an increase in the concentration of tiny carcinogenic particles known as PM2.5 in the air.

These particles are small enough to enter the bloodstream; long-term exposure to them can cause acute respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease.

PM2.5 concentrations crossed into dangerous territory on Aug. 19 and 23, when the average daily levels registered at 73.5 and 79 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively — triple the World Health Organization’s guideline level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter in a 24-hour period.

‘Shoot on sight’

It’s a similar story across the Karimata Strait from Borneo, on the island of Sumatra. Norton Marbun, a resident of Rantau Benuang village in Riau province, says the fires there began on Aug. 14, razing the villagers’ oil palm farms.

He was out in the fields helping fight the flames, he says, and almost didn’t notice the fire closing in on his house, where his wife and children were sheltering. He rushed back to find the house, which he’d just finished building three months earlier after 11 years of saving up, filled with smoke. His wife didn’t want to leave — the house was all they had, she said — and Norton says he had to drag her and the kids out as the flames bore down.

They were barely out when a gas canister exploded inside the house. “If I’d been even 10 minutes late, maybe my family would have been skeletons inside the house,” Norton says.

They lost everything with their house, including two motorcycles. The family has since moved to a neighboring village. But even there they can’t escape from the haze.

“Now my children are having difficulty breathing due to the haze,” Norton says.

As growing forest and peat fires fan the haze across Riau, the military has been roped into the effort to fight the fires. A local military commander says nearly all the fires are set deliberately, and has issued a shoot-on-sight order for anyone caught doing so. (It’s not clear how this would be justified; Indonesian law has clear statutes proscribing extrajudicial shootings by law enforcement.)

Policy failure?

Forest and peat fires are an annual occurrence in Indonesia. In 2015, the country suffered one of its worst burning seasons in years, with more than 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 square miles) of land razed — an area four times the size of Grand Canyon National Park. The resultant haze sickened hundreds of thousands people in Indonesia and spread into Malaysia and Singapore.

On the heels of that disaster, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced a series of measures aimed at preventing future fires. These include an ambitious plan to restore 24,000 square kilometers (9,300 square miles) of degraded peatland and imposing a moratorium on peat clearance.

The policies seem to have paid off, with a significant reduction in the number of hotspots in 2016 and 2017. Last year, officials recorded zero days with haze resulting from forest fires.

The government has repeatedly cited those figures as proof that its policies are working. But some of this year’s fires have flared up in regions prioritized by the government for peat restoration, including West Kalimantan and Riau.

Walhi, the environmental watchdog, says it has detected hotspots within peat hydrological units, the areas of peatland bordered by rivers or other bodies of water.

“The fact that this year the number of hotspots is very high in West Kalimantan shows that efforts to improve peat governance in the province have failed,” Anton P. Widjaya, director of Walhi’s West Kalimantan chapter, said at a recent press conference in Jakarta.

He said Walhi had compared the number of hotspots in peat areas before and after the government launched its program under the auspices of the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), and found no improvement.

“It turned out the number of hotspots didn’t differ that much,” Anton said. “So the work that the BRG has done on the ground hasn’t had a significant impact over the short term. The fact is that fires are still happening in these priority areas during the dry season.”

Riko Kurniawan, the director of Walhi’s Riau chapter, said the return of the fires in the province this year showed the government’s programs had been boosted in the previous two years by a less-severe dry season.

“Sure, there was no haze in Riau in 2016 and 2017, but that’s because the dry seasons those years were wetter, and because the government did its best to extinguish fires,” Riko said at the press conference. “But what about peat restoration and protection? As far as we’re concerned, that’s stagnant.”

Rewetting peat

BRG head Nazir Foead says the government’s peat restoration efforts might not be enough to prevent this year’s fires simply because of the sheer size of peat areas that have been degraded and are thus prone to burning again.

He cites the case of a village in Riau that was included in the peat restoration program last year. The village is surrounded by dozens of square kilometers of peatland that have to be rewetted to prevent fires from breaking out. To this end, the villagers blocked the canals that were previously dug to drain the land in preparation for planting.

But the work only took place two months before the onset of the dry season, and not all of the canals could be blocked in time.

“And indeed, fires happened this year on the edge of the village that hadn’t been restored yet,” Nazir says.

Even after drainage canals have been blocked, it can take years of rains before a peat area is restored to its original wet, sponge-like condition.

“If all the canals have been blocked, does that ensure there’ll be no more fire? Not really,” Nazir says. “Because the peatland has been dried out for so long, and so when the canals are blocked, the peatland isn’t immediately rewetted.”

In addition to working with villages that are prone to fires, the peat restoration program also requires companies to restore degraded peatland inside their concessions. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has approved the peat restoration plans of 45 timber plantation companies and 107 oil palm and rubber plantation firms, according to Karliansyah, the ministry official in charge of environmental damage mitigation.

The ministry is still waiting for 80 more oil palm and rubber plantation companies and more than 30 timber plantation companies to submit and revise their restoration plans, he added.

“I guarantee that the 45 timber companies and the 107 plantation companies have done [peat restoration],” Karliansyah said. “But outside those companies, there might still be degraded peatland. If the weather is dry and there’s a small fire, then the fire could spread.”

Trading blame

The ministry’s fire mitigation chief, Raffles B. Pandjaitan, says this year’s increase in hotspots coincides with the start of the land-clearing season in West Kalimantan, where local farmers practice a traditional method of slash-and-burn called gawai serentak.

He says the farmers take advantage of the dry season, which peaks in August and September, to burn their land, after which they begin planting.

“It’s during this slash-and-burn season that the risk of fires is at its greatest,” Raffles said in a press release. “If we don’t keep the slash-and-burn practice under control, the fires will spread to other, bigger plantations.”

Walhi has refuted the government’s claim, saying many of the hotspots it has detected are in the concessions of large companies, not the farms of smallholders. The group says there have been 765 fire spots in corporate concessions so far this year.

Walhi executive director Nur Hidayati says it’s likely the government is blaming smallholders for this year’s fires because its own firefighting efforts so far have been focused on areas close to these villages.

“But [fires on] companies’ concessions that are far from villages are being ignored,” she told Mongabay in Jakarta recently.

Walhi spokeswoman Khalisah Khalid says that while some indigenous communities continue to practice slash-and-burn clearing, they do so in a way that keeps the fire contained. This keeps the fires from spreading outside the communities’ land and damaging the environment, according to a 2016 Walhi study on how traditional communities manage peatlands.

“Indigenous peoples have always been blamed for causing forest and peat fires,” Khalisah says. “But as this study shows, there are 20 steps that the Dayak indigenous tribe have to go through when they want to cultivate peatland.”

She also notes that a 2009 law that allows smallholders to clear land by burning up to 2 hectares (5 acres) — a stipulation aimed at preserving traditional methods of land clearing. By blaming traditional farmers for this year’s fires, the government has failed to understand the importance of local wisdoms about farming on peat, Khalisah says.

Walhi attributes the outbreak of fires this season on companies that went unpunished for previous fires and were thus emboldened to continue to the practice.

The government itself is also to blame for preventing the fires. That, at least, is the judgment of a court in Central Kalimantan province, which recently ruled in favor of a citizen lawsuit calling on the president and various ministers and other senior officials to be held accountable for the 2015 fires. In their suit, the plaintiffs argued that the government failed in its duty of protecting residents of Central Kalimantan from the impact of the fires.

The respondents in the lawsuit include the president; the ministers of environment, agriculture, land, and health; and the governor and provincial legislature of Central Kalimantan.

In its ruling, the high court in Palangka Raya, the provincial capital, ordered the respondents to pass regulation to mitigate land and forest fires

The government, however, is appealing the case to the Supreme Court, to the dismay of activists.

“I think there’s no need for the president to be defensive and file an appeal,” Walhi water and ecosystem campaigner Wahyu A. Pradana told local media. “What the president should do is obey all the orders in the ruling, because they’re for the sake of the people.”

Walhi has also called on the authorities to take action against companies with fires on their concessions, instead of going after local farmers. The environment ministry in mid-August sealed off concessions held by five companies in Kubu Raya district, West Kalimantan. It did not identify the companies by name.

“The government is very serious in handling land and forest fires,” Rasio Ridho Sani, the ministry’s head of law enforcement, said in a press release. “This move is to support our law enforcement effort so that there’s a deterrent effect. We will keep monitoring other burned locations using satellite and drone.”

Banner image: A group of locals in West Kalimantan participates in a flag-raising ceremony amid toxic haze from nearby peat fires. Image by Aseanty Pahlevi/Mongabay Indonesia. 

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Terra and Aqua Satellites Again Detect Five Hotspots in Aceh Province

Terra and Aqua Satellites Again Detect Five Hotspots in Aceh Province

BANDA ACEH, NNC – Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS sensors attached to two satellites, Terra and Aqua, detect five hotspots in the province of Aceh.

“This morning, monitored five hotspots in Aceh again,” said Head of Data and Information of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) of Aceh, Zakaria Ahmad in Aceh Besar, Wednesday (4/11/2018).

The five hot spots, he added, were re-detected by the satellites after on Tuesday, (4/10), were also observed in the same location, that is, two regencies in Aceh.

Four hotspots are concentrated in the highlands, that is, Central region of Aceh which is a producer of Arabica and Robusta coffee, Bener Meriah Regency.

In the coffee-producing regency, hotspots are spread over three sub-district, such as, Bandar two spots, Permata and Syiah Utama each one spot.

The rest of hotspot was detected in North Aceh Regency, in Simpang Keuramat Sub-district which has a confidence level of 56 percent.

Read more: http://www.en.netralnews.com/news/currentnews/read/20170/terra.and.aqua.satellites.again.detect.five.hotspots.in.aceh.province

Tropical rainforests may be near a tipping point beyond our control

Tropical rainforests may be near a tipping point beyond our control

Deforestation may work like diseases: if left uncontained, it can win

MICHAEL GRAW, MASSIVE04.09.20182:59 PM

In the Amazon, Congo, and Indonesia, the three regions that are home to nearly all of the world’s tropical rainforests, the human motivations behind and methods of deforestation are entirely distinct. In South America the most significant driver of forest loss is the need to clear land for industrial-scale agriculture and ranching, so huge swaths of forest are burned into oblivion by human-set wildfires. In Southeast Asia, on the other hand, the high price of timber in the global market makes clear-cutting a lucrative venture. In Africa, deforestation lacks this industrial scale, but is more haphazard as small farmers clear land in piecemeal efforts to plant subsistence crops.

The net result is that the rainforests of today’s post-industrial world are more like millions of tiny, isolated patches of forest than the massive stretches of jungle that blanketed the tropics for millennia. The ramifications echo far beyond sentimental conservation — these forest fragments collectively emit 31 percent more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than intact rainforests, even after accounting for emissions from deforestation. In addition, numerous plants and animals that call the tropical rainforests home, and that inspire pharmaceuticals for human medicine, have struggled to adapt to patchwork forests, and so face extinction.

Read more: https://www.salon.com/2018/04/09/tropical-rainforests-may-be-near-a-tipping-point-beyond-our-control_partner/

Localities urged high vigilance in response to forest fires

Localities urged high vigilance in response to forest fires

VNA 

Hanoi (VNA) – Localities nationwide have been urged by the Vietnam Administration of Forestry to prepare measures to prevent forest fires and mitigate damage caused by fires.

Authorities at grassroots levels must promote communication works on firefighting among their residents while forces should be ready around the clock in case forest fires occur.

Roles must be assigned among members of all-level steering boards of the national target programme on sustainable forestry development to enhance inspections. Meanwhile, military and police forces were ordered to stand ready to offer assistance in case of fire.

Forest ranger teams should work with people’s committees to direct and examine efforts to prevent forest fires while forest owners are responsible for upgrading firefighting facilities.

Localities must monitor forest fire warnings on the forest protection department’s website: kiemlam.org.vn and any forest fires should be reported to the forest protection department under the Vietnam Administration of Forestry via 098 666 8333.

This year’s dry season has seen complicated weather developments, thus, the highest level alert of forest fires has been forecast in many localities. Forest fires have already hit some provinces, including Binh Thuan, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Lao Chau, Dien Bien and Hai Phong.-VNA

Read More: https://en.vietnamplus.vn/localities-urged-high-vigilance-in-response-to-forest-fires/129259.vnp

Indonesia Peatland Swap Plan Questioned Over Deforestation Risk

Indonesia Peatland Swap Plan Questioned Over Deforestation Risk

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Mempawah facing situation of emergency against haze of smoke

Published By: ANTARANEWS.com

Pontianak, W Kalimantan (ANTARA News) – The district administration of Mempawah of West Kalimantan has announced a situation of emergency against the haze of smokes with a number of peatland areas having caught fire as dry season began to hit the region.

“The status of emergency will last until June 30, 2018,” acting district head of Mempawah, Gusti Ramlana, said here on Sunday.

Gusti Ramlana said dots of bushfires had been monitored in a number of areas, adding the dry season began only early this month bur the impact is quite damaging.

“I hope the BPPD (local disaster mitigation agency) could give a map of areas vulnerable to forest and bushfires in Mempawah,” he said.

Read more: https://en.antaranews.com/news/114674/mempawah-facing-situation-of-emergency-against-haze-of-smoke

(U.SYS/A/H-ASG/F001)

Editor: Heru Purwanto

Inggris Kucurkan Rp40 Miliar ke RI-Malaysia, untuk Apa Saja?

Inggris Kucurkan Rp40 Miliar ke RI-Malaysia, untuk Apa Saja?

By: Ezra Natalyn

Published by: Viva

VIVA – Inggris mendanai proyek baru untuk penanganan kebakaran hutan di Indonesia dan Malaysia dengan nilai 2 juta Poundsterling atau setara dengan Rp40 miliar. Program yang digagas Badan Antariksa Inggris ini disalurkan melalui jalur Program Kemitraan Internasional yaitu untuk mengatasi kebakaran hutan melalui satelit.

Proyek ini disebutkan merupakan salah satu dari 10 proyek baru di dunia yang melibatkan sejumlah organisasi di bidang ruang angkasa dengan total proyek seluruhnya hingga Rp720 miliar.

Read more by https://www.viva.co.id/berita/dunia/1007232-inggris-kucurkan-rp40-miliar-ke-ri-malaysia-untuk-apa-saja

 

Asian Games should remain unaffected by forest fires: President

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Implementation of the ASIAN Games in Indonesia should not be affected by smoke arising from forest and land fires, according to President Joko Widodo.

The 18th Asian Games will be organized from Aug 18 to Sept 2 at the Bung Karno Sports Arena of Jakarta and Jakabaring Sports City of Palembang in South Sumatra Province.

“This year, we host the ASIAN Games in Jakarta and Palembang. I remind you to not let the smoke from forest and land fires arise during the implementation of the event,” Widodo noted during a briefing to participants of the National Coordination Meeting on Forest and Land Fire Control in 2018 at the State Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday.

He pointed out that smoke from forest and land fires will tarnish the image of Indonesia and disrupt flights during the ASIAN Games.

“We have to work hard to ensure that the ASIAN Games run smoothly without any disturbance from forest and land fires,” he stated.

Read more https://en.antaranews.com/news/114525/asian-games-should-remain-unaffected-by-forest-fires-president

Reported by Joko Susilo
(T.M052/A/KR-BSR/F001)

Editor: Heru Purwanto