Forest Fires in South East Asia

Forest Fires in South East Asia

25 July 2013

In a new analysis of fires burning since June in Sumatra, CIFOR scientists studied high-resolution satellite imagery and discovered that in the worst-hit area, 21% of the land surveyed was part of an industrial palm-oil or pulp plantation. For details see the special CIFOR web page:

In late June 2013, smoke billowed from thousands of fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and blew across the Strait of Malacca to Malaysia and Singapore. Haze-darkened skies have become all too normal during the tropical dry season in this region; but this year, air quality degraded more than ever before in Singapore.

Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. The image shows the peak of the burning episode. The blue smudge across the scene is smoke, while higher clouds are white. Fires glow orange, and newly burned land is dark red. Bare soil or older burn scars are a lighter shade of red. The fires burn within well-defined, rectangular fields, showing that they were deliberately set to clear the land for farming.
(Image taken by Landsat 8 satellite on June 25, 2013)

The image shows the same area before the burning started. The grids and lines indicate that the area is almost entirely devoted to agriculture. According to land-use maps from the Indonesian government, the dark green fields are mature forest, likely palm oil and timber plantations. Paler green areas are either less-mature trees or other crops, and red fields are bare soil or burned land. The contrast between the two images shows that both mature forest and other types of land cover burned in June.
(Image taken by Landsat 8 on May 24, 2013)

Morning (Terra MODIS)

Afternoon (Aqua MODIS)

This images, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra and Aqua satellites, shows striking images of smoke billowing from illegal wildfires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra on 19 June 2013. The smoke blew east toward southern Malaysia and Singapore, and news media reported that thick clouds of haze had descended on Singapore, pushing pollution to record levels.

Source: NASA satellite image repository (selected and interpreted by GFMC).

WildlandFire relatednews from the Media:Note: The hyperlinks on the left side of each news are password-protected (User ID and password to enter the GFMC database are available for partners of GFMC. To obtain the ID and password, please send your query to The links on the right side (in brackets) are leading to the original news source; sometimes these news are expiring rather swiftly – a reason for the establishment of the internal GFMC database):




        Background on Wildland Fires in South East Asia

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