August 30, 2018

Fire spot in Sungai Putri logging concession put out

JAKARTA ( - Using NASA Active Fire Data (MODIS), a single fire spot has been detected in the logging concession PT MPK which is situated in West Kalimantan's Ketapang regency and forms a habitat for the critically-endangered Bornean orangutan in the Sungai Putri landscape.  

The location of this fire spot in the logging concession is around a point on a canal which was opened by the company last year. This peat violation caused Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya to impose a sanction on the company by suspending its operations in April last year.  

The Planet Explorer images below, which were analyzed by the team, show the detected fire spot (Aug 16) which subsequently appears to have been put out (Aug 18).  

A previous field-based observation of the fire spot’s location uncovered the extent of the canal development, one of several peat violations committed by the logging company which were investigated by the ministry.  

The following photowhich was taken by the team, indicates the location of the now extinguished fire spot as seen in the Planet Explorer images displayed above. 

The threat of new peat fires in several locations inside the PT MPK logging concession still needs to be guarded against, especially considering that the NASA Active Fire Data has also detected hotspots outside the concession but in locations relatively close to its boundaries.  

The spatial team utilized the Planet Explorer images below to assess the threat level from the potential spread of fires spots outside part of the PT MPK logging concession (delineated in yellow) during this month of August.  

The evidence in the images above clearly indicates that there are serious fire spots outside the logging concession in certain locations. This was determined by referring to the land cover situation in June and August.  

Timely intervention

One can only imagine what would have happened within the PT MPK logging concession if it had not been hit with the sanction by Minister Nurbaya suspending its operations in April last year.  

This would have meant the continuation of new peat drainage practices, such as new canal construction and peat forest clearing. 

Without this sanction, parts of the PT MPK logging concession would inevitably have been drained, with the building of massive canals and removal of peat forests inhabited by the Bornean orangutan. 

All in all, without the minister's timely intervention, the entire area would have been much more vulnerable to peat fires