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Jakarta Post

Peatland fires: Preventive action should be priority

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, February 3, 2020   /  07:40 am
The Jakarta Post Image
Firefighters battle a peatland fire in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, on Aug. 10 after an usually intense dry season.(AFP/Abdul Qodir)

Forty-year-old Theti Numan Agau recalled the time when her home in Mentangai Hilir village of Kapuas district in Central Kalimantan was engulfed in thick smoke from drained peatland fire in 2015. "Many children had died because of the massive forest fire in 2015. They couldn't breathe properly because the thick smoke was suffocating," she said at a discussion in Jakarta on Wednesday. The fire was partly triggered by land clearance using the slash-and-burn technique -- a practice that had, Theti explained, been passed down from her ancestors, whereby farmers set the land on fire as a cheap way to clear it for cultivation. However, the massive forest fires of 2015 had persuaded her and other local residents to stop the slash-and-burn method. She added that the government had educated her and other villagers on how to turn peatland into economically productive lan...