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Jakarta Post

Police suspect land dispute behind string of forest fires in Riau

  • Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Pekanbaru   /   Fri, August 16, 2019   /  08:08 am
The Jakarta Post Image
Firefighters battle a blaze in grass on peatland in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, on Aug. 10. The dry season, which has worsened in recent weeks, has increased the chances of fires breaking out.(AFP/Abdul Qodir)

A string of several fires has broken out in the Tesso Nilo National Park, Riau. Local authorities say they suspect arson, alleging they might have been deliberately lit as acts of destruction in a land dispute between multiple parties. Tesso Nilo National Park head Halasan Tulus said the fires burned several rehabilitation zones and concession lands in the park.  “The rehabilitation zones lacked natural vegetation; they had been vacant lands filled with weeds and bushes,” Halasan told the press on Thursday, adding that the vacant lands had become subjects of land ownership disputes over the years.  “Many have tried to occupy the lands by setting them on fire. [The fire] then spread everywhere,” he added. Tesso Nilo’s status as a national park was stipulated in Environment and Forestry Ministerial Decree No. 255/2004. The national park w...