Indonesia: 282 hot spots detected across the country

Francis Chan Straits Times 7 Aug 17;

Indonesian satellites yesterday morning picked up 282 hot spots - believed to be the highest number across the country this year - as the dry season continues.

The worst hit province was West Kalimantan, where more than half of the hot spots were detected, said National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, as he released the figures yesterday evening.

Five districts in the province - Kubu Raya, Ketapang, Sekadau, Melawi and Bengkayang - have declared a state of emergency to enable the local authorities to access central government support, including military assistance, to put out the fires.

Dr Sutopo also expressed concern that although 150 hot spots were detected across West Kalimantan, the number of fires there may be higher. "Land and forest fires in West Kalimantan continue despite our continued efforts to suppress them," he said.

He warned that the number of hot spots is probably higher as the satellites may not have passed over all the forest and land areas where fires could be burning.

Other areas in Indonesia were also hit by forest fires, albeit not as badly as in 2015, when the burning of forest and peatland in Kalimantan and Sumatra produced a transboundary haze that blanketed the region and led to record air pollution levels for months.

Aside from those in West Kalimantan, the hot spots were spread across other provinces such as South Sumatra (23), South Sulawesi (18), Riau (16) and East Nusa Tenggara (12).

Dr Sutopo said the hot spots were spotted on private plantation land, community-owned land and in national parks, in hard-to-reach locations. "The areas burned are generally areas that are difficult to access and away from settlements, that is why (the fires) are difficult to extinguish," he said.

As of last Saturday, 18 helicopters have been deployed for firefighting operations in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan. All five provinces are currently in a state of emergency.

Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said last week that helicopters will deployed to put out fires over areas where there is limited road access.

"If land access is difficult or shut down for a long time, then we will use water-bombings," she said.

The dry season in Indonesia has been forecast to end next month at the earliest.

Indonesia's environment minister proposes meeting to tackle forest fires
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 8 Aug 17;

JAKARTA: Indonesia may soon hold a coordination meeting to tackle the forest fires in various parts of the country, according to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar.

Local news portal quoted Siti Nurbaya as saying she proposed the meeting to President Joko Widodo after meeting him at the Presidential Palace on Monday (Aug 7).

"I will follow this up with the Cabinet Secretary,” she said. “I will immediately send out the letters to ask for a coordination meeting with all the heads of districts, especially in the fire-prone areas."

Authorities have detected an increase in the number of hotspots in Indonesia's eastern most province of Papua. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said satellite images on Monday showed 93 hotspots in Papua, up from just seven the day before.

In a statement on Monday, BNPB said most of the forest fires occurred in the regencies of Merauke and Mappi.

Across Indonesia, a total of 158 hotspots were detected on Monday, down from 282 on Sunday. A substantial decrease in hotspots in fire-prone provinces like South Sumatra and Riau was also recorded.

There were only two hotspots in South Sumatra recorded on Monday, down from 23 on Sunday, while in Riau 1 hotspots was counted – down from 16 the day before.

"The number of hotspots from forest fires continue to fluctuate. Rain and firefighting efforts in Sumatra and Kalimantan have helped reduce the hotspots," said BNPB's spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Source: CNA/ek

Forest fire in Ogan Ilir forest extinguished
Antara 7 Aug 17;

Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Commander of the Sriwijaya/Regional Military District II Major General Am Putranto has confirmed that a fire in the Ogan Ilir forest was put out.

The commander visited the location of the fire in Arisanjaya Village, Pendamaran Sub-district, Ogan Ilir District, South Sumatra Province, on Monday.

His personnel had joined a team comprising police officers, rangers, volunteers, and fire brigade personnel, among others, in the fight against the wildfire.

The Army official has urged local farmers to stop practicing the slash and burn method to clear land for farming.

He also expressed hope that a fire would not recur in the area.

Meanwhile, Indonesias National Disaster Mitigation Agency has forecast that forest and land fires would continue to increase ahead of the peak of the current dry season in September.

"The likelihood of fires surfacing will continue to increase. The peak of the dry season is forecast to fall in September, and so, the potential for forest and land fires occuring will increase," the agencys spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, noted in a press statement received in Jakarta on Sunday.

So far, five out of the 34 provinces -- Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan -- have already declared an emergency status.

In West Kalimantan, the five districts of Kubu Raya, Ketapang, Sekadau, Melawi, and Bengkayang have declared an emergency status.

Sutopo said hotspots indicating forest and land fires have, so far, been found in plantations of private companies, peoples lands, and national parks.

"Based on the locations of hotspots in 2015, 2016, and 2017, it shows that fires have been found to recur in several locations every year, such as at the Tesso Nelo National Park, Ogan Komering Ilir, and the Riau-Jambi border area," he pointed out.(*)

Some Indonesian districts not on emergency alert for forest fires despite hotspots
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 6 Aug 17;

JAKARTA: Despite the detection of hotspots, some districts in Indonesia have yet to be on emergency alert for forest fires, said Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) on Sunday (Aug 6).

In a statement, BNPB said the districts include those in Kapuas Hulu, Sanggau, Sintang and Landak - all in the West Kalimantan province.

West Kalimantan, however, declared an emergency alert status on a provincial level on Jul 26.

Satellite images from the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) on Sunday showed there were a total of 282 hotspots across Indonesia, with 150 of them in West Kalimantan.

Hotspots were also detected in other provinces considered fire-prone areas - South Sumatra had 23, Riau 16 and Jambi with two.

BNPB said forest fires started to appear in the Ogan Ilir regency of the South Sumatra province on Saturday. The agency deployed four helicopters to the region to conduct water bombing operations.

It added that districts that have many groups adopting the Fire Awareness Community and Village Disaster Mitigation programmes have managed to reduce hotspots this year.

"On the other hand, districts with few groups following the programmes have seen many hotspots appear in their area. This shows areas with low monitoring capability are more prone to forest fires," said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

The peak of the dry season is expected to last until September and the threat of forest fires may increase.
Source: CNA/aa

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