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Jakarta Post

Forest conservation: Facing clear and present danger

  • Wimar Witoelar
    Wimar Witoelar

    Founder of Intermatrix Communications, which advises the civil society group Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN)

Jakarta   /   Mon, November 6, 2017   /  10:28 am
Forest conservation: Facing clear and present danger Burning peatland is seen in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. Uncontrolled peat fires can spread for kilometers underground and by air, causing a deadly smog. In 2015, this resulted in one of the greatest environmental disasters of the 21st century. (JP/Björn Vaughn)

Indonesia frequently faces criticism from domestic politicians as well as ASEAN countries for failing to control its forest fires and the resulting smog, which the media calls “haze.” The 2015 fires were the worst, costing an estimated Rp 220 trillion (US$16.5 billion) in economic losses, or 1.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), as well as causing long-term public health hazards. The main source of the annual disaster is the ruthless large-scale drying of peatlands by plantation companies, as proven by World Bank scientists and international observers. Facing a major security risk, the government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo chose the correct policies in its very first year. The government assumed a firm stance on burning. Despite poor coordination at the provincial and sub-provincial levels, this resulted in fewer fires in 2016 and 2017. T...

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.