The chances of forest and land fires occurring in the first quarter of 2021 are low but fire-prone areas must remain alert to prevent and contain them, an expert said.
Head of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Dwi Korita said that the potential for forest and land fires ,based on hotspots in January – March 2021 was likely to be low, but preparedness was still needed especially in areas with a long history of forest and land fires such as Riau and the Riau Islands.
“We recommend that the community and stakeholders in areas prone to forest and land fires optimize more water storage at the end of the rainy season , filling lakes, reservoirs, retention ponds, and other artificial water storage through the water collecting movement,” said Korita on the official website of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK)
Based on KLHK data, forest and land fires in Riau Province had decreased to 15,442 hectares from 90,550.hectares in 2019. However, in Riau Islands, the fires razzed 2,671. More hectares in 2020.
The importance for this preparedness was also emphasized by the Head of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) Doni Munardo who expected all agencies that played a role in preventing forest and land fires in 2020, to continue their success next year. He was referring to institutions such as Manggala Agni, Tagana, TNI, Police, local governments, and the public in general.
Data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, showed that in 2020, the forest and land fire prevention and control team has succeeded in reducing the area gutted by fires in Indonesia to only 292,922 hectares, or down from 1,649,258 hectares in 2019.
“We expect the active participation of local governments to prevent disasters in areas prone to forest and land fires in 2021,” said Munardo.
KLHK Minister Siti Nurbaya also urged all parties to remain vigilant ahead of the dry season which is expected to start in May. “Based on information from the BMKG, the control of forest and land fires must begin to be improved for Riau Province and Riau Islands in February-March,” said Siti.
Siti said that there were already six existing instruments to control forest and land fires, naming them as BMKG’s Hotspot monitoring and that by the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (LAPAN), patrols, Weather Modification Technology (TMC), Masyarakat Peduli Api (MPA) – Paralegal, peat management, and weather information.