Indonesia — South Sumatra Province has around 1,483,662 hectares of peatland prone to fires, a local official said.
To prevent fires, the local authorities had intensified monitoring and campaigns to inform the public not to set fire for opening new farming areas, Sigit Wibowo, head of the South Sumatra provincial forestry service, said here on Thursday.
The local authorities monitored the peat land areas located in among other things Musibanyuasin and Ogan Komering Ilir with the cooperation of the private sector and state owned companies, he said.
Some 208 fire brigade personnel were ready to anticipate any peat forest fire, he said.
The South Sumatra administration also anticipated fire in its forest areas covering 3,683,670 hectares, plantations covering 1.8 million hectares, and agricultural areas covering 752,000 hectares.
A total of 1,023 hotspots of forest and plantation fires had been detected so far in eight districts/cities, such as Musirawas, Musibanyasin and Ogan Komering Ilir, he said.
For years, Indonesia had faced criticism from its neighbors for not doing enough to fight the fires set by locals and plantation companies.
According to Asean HazeAction online, the forest fire in 1997-1998 which affected Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, was among the most damaging in recorded history. Those countries are members of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
The land and forest fires in 1997-1998, 2002 and 2005 in Southeast Asia have destroyed more than 3 million hectares of peatlands.