Balikpapan, E Kalimantan — Around 3500 hectares of forest area in Balikpapan were prone to forest fire disaster due to burning coal seam fire existing in the areas, said Syahrumsyah, a spokesman of the regional environmental impact control (Bapedalda) here Thursday (12/8).
The city has set up a special task force in charge of forest fire prevention in an effort to avoid another forest fire disaster which had destroyed about 5000 hectares of forest areas few years ago, he added.
The municipal authorities of Balikpapan had allocated a budget amounting to Rp50 million (around 5,000 US dollars) to deal with forest fires in 2005, he added. All coal fires started near small streams where coal layers are found at the soil surface. From there the fires spread underground depending on thickness of the coal layer, depth and available oxygen.
Extinguishing coal seam fires is a demanding task that lasted more than 3 years. Various schemes of organization and payment were tested. All coal fires started near small streams where coal layers are found at the soil surface. From there the fires spread underground depending on thickness of the coal layer, depth and available oxygen.
During the 1997/98 El Nino drought, the Sungai Wain Protection Forest in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, caught fire in early March 1998. Fires entered the 10,000 ha primary forest reserve from the neighboring INHUTANI I logging concession and subsequently from agricultural areas in or around the reserve.
The Sungai Wain Protection Forest (Hutan Lindung) is the last patch of primary forest between Balikpapan and Samarinda with a large number of rare and endangered wildlife species. The area was established as a reserve in 1934.
Since 1992 the forest has been used as an orangutan reintroduction site and various long-term research projects have been carried out in the reserve. It has also served as water catchments for the oil industry in Balikpapan, the second largest refinery in Indonesia, since 1947.