Indonesia is facing another hard year in terms of managing its ecosystems, since catastrophic fires are striking the country, destroying its natural resources and causing toxic gas emission. Due to the seasonal passing of El Nino, the country was devastated by wildfires that caught its forests. Most of these fires caught areas of peatland soil, causing massive destruction to plant and animal world and carbon-dioxide emission. Peatlands are amongst the most dangerous lands to be exposed to the air, considering they carry large amounts of carbon. Peatlands also store massive amounts of water coming from rainfall, and their loss can result in massive floods.
Erupting Forest Fires
Forest fires continue to erupt in Palembang, South Sumatra, devastating natural peatlands and causing toxic emissions. Fires also followed in Riau and Jambi provinces, putting Indonesian government into the position to urgently respond, in order to prevent catastrophic consequences to the ecosystem.
El Nino brought dry weather which resulted in thick haze from fires in Sumatra, which began spreading to other neighboring countries. Fires spread across Singapore, and later Kalimantan as well as Papua islands. The government eventually had to acknowledge that these fires were caused by poor management of land use. Particularly, peatlands caused these problems, since they are hard to put out if they catch on fire. Peatlands are extremely important to preserve and secure because devastation and exposure of these will only lead to further ecological damage and money loss.
Even though Indonesian government already took actions and funded projects to prevent further wildfires, some important regions were missed out. The government had already banned all clearing of peatlands. They are declared protected areas, and for those peatlands that were already cleared for production, company owners will have to acquire special permits for the technology they will use on these lands. This is the way the government is trying to manage peatlands and prevent further destruction and catastrophic disasters from happening.
Government Pursues Legal Action
Amongst actions that the government had taken to protect peatlands is also pursuing legal actions against all of those who have acted against government laws and regulations, contributing to the destruction of peatlands. The government is also applying different rehabilitation programs to begin with the recovery of the damaged ecosystem. They are currently considering to adopt an ecosystem restoration model, which is only one amongst many strategies planned by the government in the purpose of preventing further fires form devastating land and forests. The results of these implemented strategies and plans should be visible by March 2016.
We can conclude that Indonesian government has shown a lot of devotion towards preserving their natural resources. We hope to see more similar efforts put by other governments as well.