Second video reemphasizes untrue claims unhelpful in preventing peat fires

JAKARTA(foresthints.news) - The threat posed by peat fires this year is once again unfolding before our eyes. President Joko Widodo’s warning to be on guard in anticipation of forest and land fires in 2017 is perfectly justified, especially considering the current facts on the ground.

The President’s primary concern is to avoid a repeat of 2015’s devastating forest and land fires which caused losses of more than USD 16 billion. To this end, the President has ordered that swift and concrete steps be taken at the ground level.

One of the most worrying areas of concern is Pulang Pisau, a peat restoration priority regency situated in the province of Central Kalimantan which was greatly affected by 2015’s peat fires.

The findings of a field inspection conducted by the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry demonstrated that almost none of the peat areas in Pulang Pisau, which form part of the Peat Restoration Agency (BRG)’s targeted indicative peat restoration map, saw any ground-level peat restoration efforts by the agency whatsoever during 2016.

This is the sixth news report from foresthints.news highlighting the actual performance of the peat agency over 2016, both on a policy level as well as on the ground, as a means of verifying the peat agency's claims included in its 2016 performance report.

Untrue claims unhelpful

This second video from the ministry - which was presented by Professor San Afri Awang (Jan 19), a member of the peat agency’s steering team - indicates that no real peat restoration interventions on the ground were undertaken by the peat agency over the course of last year in 2015’s burned peatland areas.

As previously reported by foresthints.news (Jan 23), in the ministry’s first video, also shown below, the circumstances are no different to those depicted in the second video - no real peat restoration efforts took place on the ground.

The locations in the two videos are fairly close to the capital city of Central Kalimantan, Palangkaraya. It seems quite clear, however, that the boreholes built in Pulang Pisau, including some by the peat agency, will not be sufficient to ward off any peat fires that might break out in the locations in question.

In addition to the extremely limited number of boreholes in existence, the sites where these boreholes have been drilled will not enable the extinguishing of fires in remote locations, such as those seen in the two videos. This is evident in the photos of the boreholes below.

Thus, put simply, if the locations seen in the two videos were to catch fire, significant economic losses from these peat fires would be incurred once again this year.

Professor San Afri, who also serves as a director general at the MoEF, is therefore well within his rights to caution that the claims made by the peat agency regarding its peat restoration interventions in 2016 - which in fact almost wholly consisted of mere data collection - are completely unhelpful when it comes to anticipating and preventing the recurrence of peat fires on the ground level.