Background: Forest fires in Indonesia are increasing in frequency and area. The main factors responsible for this development are human activities, particularly in land clearing, and the recent changes in climate pattern. The main sources of forest and other wildland fires are:
Land clearing by shifting cultivators and other local communities, categorised as non-institutional sources.
Land clearing for timber estate plantations, transmigration sites and animal ranching, categorised as institutional sources. To cite an example, some 1,375,000 ha of lands are required for transmigration during the Sixth Five Year Plan (PELITA VI) for the period 1993-1998.
Spontaneous causes spreading from burning coal seams, which are long-lasting sources of fire, by lightning and volcanic eruptions.
The occurrence of forest fires is closely related to the severity and duration of the dry season. This condition is closely correlated with the El Niño Phenomenon acting in the South Pacific.
Forest fires result in ecological and economic losses. At the ecological level, reduction in biological diversity and increase in erosion are two common impacts. Economic damage includes the loss of valuable timber and property. In 1991, damage in forest lands due to fire was estimated at Rp. 232,3 billion (US$ 103 million). This estimate does not include damage in estate plantation and timber estate areas and the products of community agricultural land in the surroundings of the forests.
Another important impact is the haze caused by the fire which in 1994 affected the regional economies of Kalimantan and Sumatra since it disrupted land, sea and air transportation. Several airports had to be temporarily closed down at that time, while the impact of the haze was felt also by several neighbouring countries.
Institutional Arrangements: Management and control of land and forest fire has become a concern for various related technical agencies. At the policy level, this concern is manifested in the issuance of decrees, which are, among others:
Decree of the Minister of Forestry No. 260/Kep-II/1995 on Guidelines for Prevention and Control of Forest Fire, supplemented with the implementation guidelines;
Decree of the Minister of Forestry No. 188/kpts-11/1995 on the Establishment of National Forest Fire Management Centre;
Decree of the State Minister of Environment No. 18/MENLH/3/1995 on the Establishment of the National Coordination Team on Land Fire Management;
Decree of the Director General of Estate Crops No. 38/KB.110/DJ.BUN/05.95 on Technical Guidelines for Land Clearance Without Burning to Develop Plantations;
Circular Letter of the Directorate General of the Environment and Settlement No. SE 256/PL/1995 on Land Preparation in fiscal year 1995/1996.
To develop and strengthen the existing coordination, a Presidential Decree is being prepared to establish the “National Coordinating Body” on Management of Land and Forest Fire.
Programmes: To prevent and manage fire that may occur during the dry season of 1995 and the coming years, the following programmes have been undertaken or are being developed:
Prevention of fire in alang-alang grasslands; management and utilization of these through tree planting.
Increasing awareness and alertness of forest-dwelling communities and farmers on the dangers of using fire for land clearing in agriculture, through printed and electronic media.
Guidance for traditional communities in permanent agriculture systems through extension services and mass media.
Fire control management by sectors involved in land clearing, through:
– Minimising haze during burning to be contained in the EIA document. – Provision of fire control activities in the work contract. – Providing incentives for utilisation of waste wood, particularly for chip and pulp mills.
Establishment of information and communication satellite network among agencies with responsibilities in fire management at the national level (Ministry of Forestry, BAPEDAL, and other related institutions) and at the regional level, to be supplemented with interpreter sources from the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency. In addition a reporting system from the field, using radio, will be continued and developed.
The following measures, among others, have been implemented or are being prepared in the field of fire management:
International Workshop on Long-Term Integrated Forest Fire Management (17-18 June 1992, Bandung), attended by all related agencies and several donor countries and international organizations (see report in IFFN, January 1993 issue).
National Alert Assembly held on 1 June 1995 at Subanjariji, South Sumatera.
Training for core fire control team and development of training centres. In 1994, 57 instructors and 314 specialists were trained and then sent to fire-prone areas to train other personnel.
Establishment of monitoring tower network in forests vulnerable to fire and formation of fire control team with equipment adapted to the field situation in all forest concession and timber estate areas.
Development of training centres.
Procurement of communications equipment that can cover all areas of Indonesia so that an early fire warning can be sent from the site to the Central Forest Fire Control Commanding. The code name of this service is Manggala 100, Jakarta.
Since 1995, land clearing for transmigration settlement is done without employing fire.
Responsible agencies are:
Secretariat, National Coordination Team on Land and Forest Fire Management Deputy II BAPEDAL Arthaloka Bld, 6th floor Jl. Sudirman No. 2 Jakarta Director of Forest Protection Ministry of Forestry Jl. Ir. Juanda 100 Bogor