Indonesia: Press Release, “Community in Flames”, 24 July 2001

Indonesia: Community Based Fire Management Solutions Examined
– As Haze Increases in South East Asia

24 July 2001

(Press Release,”Communities in Flames”-International Conference on Community Involvement in Fire Management

Project FireFight South East Asia, with the cooperation and involvement of government agencies, donors, NGOs and communities begins today “COMMUNITIES IN FLAMES“, an International Conference on Community Involvement in Fire Management from July 25-28th in Balikpapan, Indonesia. With smoke in the air similar to that of the haze events of 1997/98, this international gathering is designed to raise awareness and highlight the human dimensions of fire.
Weather conditions became drier in late June and into July 2001. The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre reported satellite-detected fires in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Peninsula Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah. Smoke reached southern Thailand with Malaysia’s and Singapore’s air pollution index rising and visibility effected. The worst was in Pontianak, West Kalimantan where airline schedules were disrupted and air quality exceeded the hazardous level. The haze comes from active land clearing activities. Some of the fires are in the peat areas, which release the majority of the smoke when fires are burning.
Dr William Jackson, the Global Coordinator of IUCN’s forest Conservation Programme, a keynote speaker at the conference noted, “The community has a vital part to play in collaborating with agencies, donors and governments to strike the balance for sound fire management. The wisdom of communities in managing the fire they use is critical for biodiversity, protected areas and climate change. Community insights and perspectives should be part of the solution to fires incorporated into conventions and global policy instruments”
Unfortunately, government responses to forest fires have tended to focus on suppression and costly technological solutions to fight fires. Contrary to alleviating forest fire problems, these solutions have often increased the scale and magnitude of forest fires.
“Forest fires have been identified overwhelmingly as the result of human actions, starting fires for subsistence, for protection and in support of industrial scale forest conversion. The impact of forest fires can be minimised if we can identify and encourage community based fire management as an integral part of planning and practices for forest and land management,” Co-ordinator of Project FireFight South East Asia Dr. Peter F. Moore said.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Peter F. Moore, Co-ordinator Project FireFight South East Asia
E-mail: ; Hand Phone: +62-812 1100 960; Fax: +62-251 622 100


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