Indonesia sets new standards in forest fire management

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Indonesia takes the lead in forest fire prevention

Indonesia is among those at the forefront of combating forest fires, which annually affect approximately 70 million hectares globally.

The United Nations has highlighted an initiative in Indonesia that has significantly reduced forest fires, benefitting both the environment and the economy.

This comes on the International Day of Forests, 21 March, underscoring the efforts made in a country once plagued by devastating fires.

The story of Marlizar and the fight against fires

In 2019, Marlizar, a volunteer firefighter, encountered a peatland fire in Riau province’s Teluk Maranti village.

Despite facing the fire alone initially, Marlizar’s efforts underscore the challenges and dedication of those on the frontline.

However, the fire’s rapid spread to five hectares within hours illustrates the ferocity and speed of such disasters.

The impact of fires in Indonesia

The wildfires of 2019 in Indonesia covered an area larger than Belgium, affecting six other countries with smoky haze, releasing almost 604 million tonnes of CO2, and causing respiratory illnesses in around 900,000 people.

The economic loss amounted to $5.2 billion, highlighting the severe consequences of these fires.

A collaborative approach to fire management

The UN-led initiative, supported by USAID, has introduced an integrated fire management project that leverages a “cluster-based” approach for land management.

This innovative strategy has brought together community fire brigades, government agencies, and private companies to build a more fire-resilient landscape in Indonesia.

Achievements and future plans

Since the introduction of fire prevention clusters in 2021, significant progress has been made in reducing fire incidents in pilot districts.

The approach is now expanding, with the aim of nationwide implementation, demonstrating the effectiveness of collaborative efforts in fire prevention.

IFSJ Comment

The initiative in Indonesia represents a significant advancement in forest fire management, offering a blueprint for other countries facing similar challenges.

The collaborative effort among community brigades, government, and private entities has not only mitigated the immediate threat of fires but also contributed to a broader strategy for environmental protection and economic stability.

Such integrated approaches are crucial in addressing complex environmental challenges, demonstrating the power of cooperation and innovation in achieving sustainable outcomes.

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