Peat agency chief inspects peat fire blanketing local airport with haze

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - The Chief of the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency, Nazir Foead, has directly inspected the efforts to extinguish an ongoing peat fires in Sumatra's Riau Province. The fires is currently burning just 3 kilometers away from the local airport in Dumai.

"From my observations on the ground, the fire is at its worst in Bukit Batrem, East Dumai. It is causing a haze problem at Dumai airport, Nazir told foresthints.news directly from the location on Tuesday (Mar 8).

He said that he was grateful for the quick action by Manggala Agni (the Environment and Forestry Ministry's fire-fighting unit), the military, police, National Disaster Response Agency (BNPB) and local governments in responding to the fire.

Nazir Foead on a motorcycle (center) at the scene of the peat fire in East Dumai, Riau

Nazir said that the fire had broken out in a conservation area that had been invaded by squatters who had establised plantations.

"Rain has started in the area. This will obviously be very helpful in extinguishing the fire, he explained.

Yesterday (Mar 7), Nazir visited the villages of Dompas and Sungai Pakning, Bukit Batu sub-district, Bengkalis District, to consult with the community groups Concerned Citizens about Fire and Fire Prevention Solidarity Group.

"A total of 26 canal blockages have been constructed by local communities in Bukit Batu sub-district. These have proven to be successful. Community-based canal blocking is funded by the Norwegian government, together with technical support from the Environment and Forestry Ministry. This should be applauded," said Nazir.

He said that such canal blocking would be promoted in other areas as part of the peat agencys priority program.

"In terms of quantity, we will continue to replicate community-based blocking of canals, especially in our priority provinces and districts. We will also work to improve their effectiveness, he explained.

The Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency was established by President Joko Widodo in early January with the principal objective of restoring some two million hectares of peatland areas that were destroyed by the devastating fires of 2015.