Indonesia discusses efforts to prevent forest fires

Antara 18 Jan 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and officers discussed efforts to prevent forest fires in Indonesia in 2016, including the involvement of the private sector.

The coordination meeting was held on Monday at 16.15 pm local time in the State Palace, Jakarta.

The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, reported on current preparations to prevent forest and land fires.

Pandjaitan said he agreed that prevention of fires is better than having to extinguish fires.

"We are agreed that prevention efforts are the best program that we can undertake. We should prioritize the peat land area to assure it does not burn," Pandjaitan added.

The minister said people should prevent fires from reaching the low levels of peat lands, since these fires will then be more difficult to extinguish.

Pandjaitan also stressed the importance of the involvement of private parties who operate in the regions close to peat land.

The Minister urged the private sector to be more careful and have preparations in place to prevent fires.

"The government will continue law enforcement on forest fires. We will not back down," remarked Pandjaitan.

Additionally, the Head of Meteorological, Climate, and Geophysics Agency Widada Sulistya reported on rain forecasts in Indonesia during the meeting.

"Almost 90 percent of the Indonesian region has entered the rainy season. However, a reduction in rainfall is related to the monsoon," Sulistya said.

The agency predicted the rainy season will enter its peak at the end of January.

During the meeting, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya also reported on peat land restoration efforts.

Further, during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21), President Joko Widodo said the government continued to reduce carbon emissions, with a target of a 29 percent reduction by 2030.

Indonesia also urged developed and developing countries to display the same commitment.

"The occurrence of forest fires in several regions in Indonesia is a lesson for us, even though for 18 years these fires have been repeated. This should be a lesson," Jokowi said when visiting South Kalimantan Province last year.

Carbon emissions from peat and forest degradation has increasingly become a problem because land and forest fires also damage ecosystems, he added.

President bans permits for peatland cultivation
Antara 18 Jan 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said the ban on the issuance of new licenses for cultivation on peatland was intended to prevent fires that are difficult to extinguish.

"I want to emphasize that new permits for (cultivation) on peatland areas should no longer be issued," said President Jokowi during a National Coordination Meeting on Forest and Land Fire Prevention at the State Palace here on Monday.

The president also ordered the environment and forestry minister to take over care of burnt peatlands.

He further instructed the newly established Peat land Restoration Agency (BRG) to work out immediate plans for caring for burnt peat land areas.

Jokowi said peatland fires were a serious problem. "I have explained to heads of state, that what were burned were not forest areas, but peatland, whose fires, if not immediately put out, could reach down to three to four meters blow the surface, and that is very difficult to extinguish," he noted.

He also said it was very difficult to put out such fires, even when using water bombing aircraft.

The president stressed that efforts to prevent and put out land and forest fires this year should be improved. Fires should not be allowed to grow before efforts to extinguish them are made.

"There are no other choices than improving the handling of the ecosystem," Jokowi added.

President Jokowi earlier said that Indonesia is serious about handling the damage to the countrys peatland, as is clear from the setting up of a peat land restoration agency.

"We can convince the international community that we are serious, very serious, about handling the damage to the peatland," he said, while announcing the establishment of the peat land restoration agency at the Merdeka Palace on Wednesday last week.

Land and forest fires, which affected several provinces in Indonesia last year, serve as a valuable lesson for President Jokowis administration.

In this regard, he set up the agency under presidential regulation number 1 of 2016.

"I want to announce the creation of the peatland restoration body through a presidential regulation I signed early this month," he said.

Jokowi also introduced Nazir Foead as the agencys chief.

The president assigned the agency to draft an action plan to immediately show the world that Indonesia is serious about handling the damage to its peatland.

And again, the president stressed that the nation must learn a lesson from last years land and forest fires which occurred in several parts of the country.

"Although these (land and forest fires) have happened repeatedly in the past 18 years, they serve as a valuable lesson," he said.(*)

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