Executive Summary Meeting of CGIF Sub Working Group III on Land and Forest Fires March 1998

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Executive Summary

Meeting of CGIF Sub Working Group III on Land and Forest Fires March1998

  The Consultative Group on Indonesian Forestry (CGIF)
The objective of the CGIF is to strengthen the communication, coordination and cooperation among all parties (Government, Donor Community, NGO’s, the Private Sector, Universities and Research Institutions etc.) in forest sector development. Ministerial Decree has formalized the CGIF in 1994 as a multi-stakeholder forum. Gradually, through internalization of CGIF recommendation, the CGIF has developed as a tool for improved strategic planning in the Ministry of Forestry. The CGIF is working in Assembly Meetings, Working Groups and Small Teams according to the National Five-Year-Plan and the Indonesian Forestry Action Program and its approach is based on objective oriented, participatory and transparent discussion processes.

The CGIF is one of the few existing examples for a well structured dialogue between the donor community and the recipient party and is fully in line with the idea of partnership as recommended in the final proposals for action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forest and as approved by UN/ECOSOC 1997.

As a response on the present land/forest fire situation in Indonesia, the CGIF Sub Working Group on Land and Forest Fires met on 25-26 March 1998 in the Ministry of Forestry in Jakarta.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministries of Forestry and Environment, the Meteorological and Geophysical Agency (BMG), the National Institute for Aerospace and Aviation (LAPAN), the Environmental Impact Management Agency (BAPEDAL), Donor Projects (EU, GTZ, JICA), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), National and International Non-Governmental Organizations (WWF) and Experts from the Universities of Bogor and Yogyakarta, the Max-Planck Institute for Atmospheric Chemistry, Germany and the ASEAN Secretariat.

The objectives of this meeting were

  • to exchange information on the present fire/haze situation and the activities in the field of fire prevention and control
  • to identify the most urgent aspects regarding the implementation of an effective forest/land fire management system and to elaborate a realistic work program (short/medium term) on them.
  • to discuss the possible inputs from the forestry sector into the National Haze Action Plan

The Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation Mr. Soemarsono opened the meeting. He emphasized the severity of the present forest fire situation in East Kalimantan and that all efforts to contain the fires so far have failed. He reiterated that the situation in East-Kalimantan can only be improved with joint efforts of national institutions, all experts and donors. He expressed his hope that the meeting would work out an important constructive input and would end up with new ideas and solutions.

1. Output of the discussions on the Forest Fire Situation 1997/98

During the forest fire period in 1997, the official fire statistics stated that more than 263,000 hectares of forest have been burned, which, together with the haze accumulation had been classified as a national disaster (MoF).

A preliminary EU-estimate using data from EU, JICA, GTZ and other sources reveals that even a total area of at least 3.6 million hectares (2.2 million hectares in Southern Sumatra and another 1.4 hectares in Kalimantan) was burned by land/forest fires (EU).

Various efforts to fight the fires and to prevent its further extension have been initiated/ taken action, involving the National Coordination Agency for Disaster Control, Ministry of Forestry & Estate Crops, Ministry of Environment, the Armed Forces and foreign assistance. The efforts comprised water bombing, the use of chemicals, establishment of firebreaks and water reservoirs, training of personals in fire suppression and dissemination of information brochures/video clips.

The total expenditures amounted up to 2 billion Rupiah.

However, all efforts generally suffered from poor coordination, either among sectors, between central and provincial levels or among donors and some of the efforts, as firebreaks and artificial rain, were likely to be ineffective. And also the poor implementation of the existing regulations, recommendations and projects caused the fires to persist.

The recent forest fires restarted in January. Until 24 March around 130,000 ha were burned in East Kalimantan. Most of the fires were likely to occur on conversion areas. The Kutai National Park was affected with an area of 40,000 ha. In Aceh, Sumatra, fire has affected about 225 ha until they were suppressed by the Leuser Foundation at the end of February.

The fact, that 90 percent of the recent and present fire were identified as intentional, emphasizes that the core problem is the present land use policy, the land use right and tenure system and the absence of an effective land and forest fire management system. Inadequate law enforcement as well as poor implementation of existing regulations and are another important factor for the persisting character of the fires.

Only a fundamental change of these framework conditions will at the long-term lead to substantial reduction of land and forest fires (GTZ).

2. Strategic approach for an effective forest fire prevention and management system

As an outflow of the discussions, the CGIF Sub Working Group identified three major clusters of problems to be solved with priority in order to prevent similar situations in the future. For each cluster, a discussion group analyzed in detail the most important issues with regard to the current fire situation in order to give proposals for solution.

It was agreed to follow-up these discussions through a phased work plan for each group. The activities defined in this work plan are to be carried out by the groups until the next meeting in June.

Fire information management and early warning system

A successful land/forest fire prevention and control requires the establishment of an integrated information system, that unifies and standardizes all information on land/forest fires and which is complemented by an effective reporting system.

The discussion group (a) focussed on the development of fire risk maps, which include not only meteorological data but also other aspects of influence such as information on the geology, the soil, the vegetation, the water resources and social, economic and cultural factors. These maps are essential for the implementation of an early warning system. Due to limited resources, the group decided to develop fire risk maps for two provinces at first, accomplished with a comprehensible guideline, how to produce them.

The elaborated working plan comprises activities such as identifying and collection of existing data, evaluation and processing in view of the drafting and completing of the fire risk maps.

Fire management capacity and organization

The recent fire crisis demands a well-coordinated and integrated action directed at the mobilization of all available fire fighting resources

Lack of information on available personnel, equipment and water resources, insufficient logistics, communication systems and plans for mobilization were the major constraints for an effective fire management in the past.

As a solution, discussion group (b) recommended the update of data on personnel and equipment in a database and to compare it with the means to manage the fires. It was considered to be advisable to put the coordination of fire fighting suppression under the ABRI as the leading force.

The second major problem addressed by the discussion group (b), the insufficient human resources, are a result of the lack of a national standard for training in fire management, of qualified instructors and equipment as well as incentives to train personnel at the local governmental level.

To solve the problem of insufficient human resources, the group recommended the increase and strengthening of the number of trained personnel on all governmental levels. In this connection, the highest priority was given to an immediate training of trainers in fire fighting.

As short term activity, the discussion group will prepare the framework for a national training program including identification of target groups, training organization, time tables and budgetary questions. In the context of the existing ITTO-Program, the IBG will prepare a national forest fire curriculum and syllabus.

The need for assistance from donors is to be specified, after having mobilized all domestic resources (ABRI, NGO’s, MoEnv, Bakornas et al.).

Policy, institutional and legal framework for forest and land fire prevention and control

A review of present conversion and land use policies as well as unclear land tenure and land use rights and poor law enforcement, which represent the core problem of the forest fires, was identifies to be essential to prevent fires in future.

This should be supported by an improvement of the organizational structures for forest fire prevention and control, which is characterized by undefined responsibilities and budgets and poor coordination.

A development of local guidelines for prevention and control on the basis of the national guideline has to be followed by a better coordination of the various other action plans and guidelines. Additionally, it has to be investigated, why the local population normally does not actively participate in fire prevention and control.

Regarding the revision of land use and tenure policy as well as the organizational structure, the group agreed to collect relevant data and to elaborate a paper for proposal of improvements by incorporating the results of the other working group as well as inputs from relevant institutions.

3. The National Haze Action Plan

The first draft of the National Haze Action Plan has been prepared under the ASEAN framework by the National Coordination Team for Forest and Land Fire Control, which involves the Ministries of Environment and Forestry, Bappenas and BAPEDAL, is supposed to be finalized end of April. Since haze is the consequence of forest fire, the plan mainly concentrates on the set up of clearly designated responsibilities for fire control and prevention on all levels and the promotion of land clearing without fire. As input to the draft, the meeting recommended to incorporate the results the discussions of this meeting, with special regard to those of discussion group (c) “Policy, institutional and legal framework for forest and land fire prevention and control” as well as the criteria of sustainable forest management.


The present land and forest fire situation is regarded as a very serious problem that only can be resolved by a joint effort of all national resources together with a continuous support from other countries in form of ideas, expertise, equipment and funding as an act of solidarity between the international community and Indonesia.

For the short term, priority has to be given to the suppression of the recent fire situation in order to protect the people in the affected areas and in order to preserve the unique biodiversity, which is a global common.

At medium and long term horizon, however, the direct and underlying causes for the forest fires in Indonesia have to be addressed. Main issues in this context are a thorough review of the existing land use and rights as well as the land tenure systems, which are likely to favor frequent forest. Of an equal importance are the questions of law enforcement and control. All these policy-related points are directly linked to the macro-economic discussions with regard to the forestry related IMF points for action.



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