National

More hotspots detected
despite pledge to reduce
forest fires

The government’s pledge to reduce forest fires in attempt to help slow climate change is now under question after a report revealed the number of recorded hotspots soared last year.

The 2009 State Environment Report launched by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono showed the number of fire hotspots rose to 32,416 in 2009 from only 19,192 in the previous year.

The Environment Ministry pointed its finger at weak law enforcement and a lack of supervision from local authorities for the increasing number.
 
“Illegal land clearing with fires by local people in Kalimantan and Sumatra is still rampant,” Heddy Mukna, deputy assistant for forest and land management at the Environment Ministry told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He said that in Kalimantan, local administrations were forced to withdraw policies prohibiting land clearing due the protests from local people.

“It [land clearing] caused the increase number of hotspots in Kalimantan last year.”
 
The report showed the number of hotspots in West Kalimantan increased to 7,276 in 2009 from 2,881 in the previous year.

In Central Kalimantan, the total number of hotspots reached 4,942 last year from only 1,852 in 2008, while in South Kalimantan fires jumped to 1,291 from only 372 in 2008.

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