Indonesia Claims Success in Reducing Fire Hotspots

Telly Nathalia Jakarta Globe 26 Oct 17;

Jakarta. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB, said Indonesia has managed to reduce the number of fire hotspots in the country this year by more than 30 percent, with the peak of the dry season having already passed. The overall number of land and forest fires has also declined.

Air pollution index in the country stays at normal to healthy. Visibility is normal and no flights have been canceled due to air pollution, BNPB Head Sutopo Nugroho said.

"In 2016, the number of fire hotspots according to the NOAA [US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] was 3,568. In 2017 so far, there have been 2,400," he said.

The number of land and forest fires was also down almost 47 percent to 1,927 spots in 2017 according to Terra-Aqua satellite surveillance, Sutopo said.

Only 124,983 hectares of land and forest were affected by fire this year compared to 438,360 hectares in 2016 and 2.61 million hectares in 2015.

"In previous years, the areas affected by fire are mostly in Sumatra and Kalimantan. In 2017, fires are found in East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara and Papua," Sutopo said.

A shorter than usual dry season, which had already peaked in September, is responsible for the low number of fire hotspots this year.

The BNPB has also conducted more fire prevention efforts this year, including establishing 300 monitoring posts for 1,203 fire-prone areas, improving coordination between communities and officials — including the police and the military, and deploying 26 helicopters and three airplanes for water bombing, Sutopo said.

Hot spots from forest fires in Indonesia fell 32.6 % in 2017
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 25 Oct 17;

JAKARTA: Forest fires in Indonesia have been under control this year. The peak of the dry season in September has passed without any major increase in the number of hot spots, according to statistics by Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) released on Wednesday (Oct 25).

A total of 2,400 hot spots were detected so far this year, compared to 3,563 during the same period in 2016, according to records made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite. That's a 32.6 per cent drop in hot spots.

"This is thanks to the alertness and synergy of various parties, anticipating the occurrence of forest fires ... the number of hot spots and the extent of forest fires have been curbed," said BNPB's spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in a statement.

Dr Sutopo added that this year, the air pollution index has been between the normal and healthy range, visibility has been normal and the community has been able to carry on with their daily activities without any major disruptions.

In addition, none of the airports had to be closed because of the haze.

Based on satellite analysis by the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the extent of forest fires have also been reduced.

In 2017, a total of 124,983 hectares of land were destroyed by fires, which is less than the 438,360 hectares recorded in 2016.

About 2.61 million hectares of land were destroyed during the catastrophic forest fires in 2015. It caused thick haze which blanketed parts of Indonesia and its neighbours, and the pollution cost Indonesia more than US$16 billion in economic losses.

BNPB added that learning from the 2015 incident, local governments have been quick in declaring an emergency alert status so that they can get resources and funding from the central government to carry out anticipatory measures.

Forest fire mitigation efforts continue in Indonesia as the emergency alert status in most districts ends in November.
Source: CNA/am

Fewer forest fires, land burned in Indonesia this year
Francis Chan Straits Times 25 Oct 17;

JAKARTA - The number of forest fires across Indonesia fell by more than 30 per cent this year as fire prevention and enforcement efforts, started after the transboundary haze crisis in 2015 sent air pollution to record levels, continue to bear fruit.

The 2,400 hot spots recorded thus far this year as the dry season ends is less than the 3,563 picked up by satellites run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over the same period last year.

Similarly, hot spots detected by Terra-Aqua satellites also decreased by 47 per cent, from 3,628 hot spots in 2016, to 1,927 this year, said Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) on Wednesday (Oct 25).

The latest figures on hot spots are substantially lower than the 130,000 or more hot spots that hit Indonesia in 2015 when more than 2.6 million hectares of land were razed.

The burning of forests and peatland in Kalimantan and Sumatra that same year also produced transboundary haze that blanketed the region and led to record air pollution levels across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore for months.

Since then, Indonesia has managed to limit the amount of land burned and prevent a repeat of the 2015 crisis.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that based on satellite imagery analysis conducted by Indonesia's Ministry of Environment and Forestry, about 124,983ha of land was burned so far, this year, which is just over a quarter of the 438,360ha affected by fires last year.

"The peak period for the threat of forest and land fires has passed," said Dr Sutopo, referring to the months of September and October, when the dry season usually hits Indonesia. "And thanks to the preparation, synergy and anticipation by various parties to fight forest and land fires, the number of hot spots and the extent of fires was down compared with the previous year."

The latest figures on hot spots, however, revealed a shift in the location of forest and land fires, from Kalimantan and Sumatra islands, to East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara and Papua, he added.

According to data from the ministry, about 33,030ha and 26,217ha of land in east and west Nusa Tenggara respectively, were burned, while 16,492ha of land were similarly affected in Papua.

More favourable weather also played a part in Indonesia's recent success in preventing fires, said Dr Sutopo.

The dry season of 2017 was "normal" and drier than the 2016 season, which was shorter due to the La Nina phenomenon, he said.

"But compared with 2015, the drought in 2017 was lower in intensity. In 2015, it was a very long and dry season due to the impact of El Nino."

El Nino refers to the climate phenomenon that causes a warming trend conducive to the burning of land, but it is usually followed by the wetter La Nina season.

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