Photos: Peatland fires rage through Indonesia’s Sumatra Island

first_imgDeforestation, Dry Forests, Fires, Forest Destruction, Forest Fires, Forests, Haze, Oil Palm, Peatlands, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Southeast Asia Haze, Southeast Asian Haze Article published by Basten Gokkon Aerial images taken last month in the southern part of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island show fires raging through peatlands and generating massive clouds of haze.The fires this year are the worst since 2015, exacerbated by an unusually intense dry season and an El Niño weather pattern.The fires are set deliberately to clear land for oil palm and pulpwood plantations, and the smoke they generate has sickened hundreds of thousands of people and spread as far as neighboring Singapore and Malaysia. PALEMBANG, Indonesia — Aerial images taken last month in the southern part of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island show wildfires burning through peat forests and producing clouds of toxic smoke.Peatlands in the districts of Ogan Komering Ilir and Ogan Ilir in South Sumatra province were among those pictured ablaze by Mongabay Indonesia’s Nopri Ismi, who joined a water-bombing flight by the local disaster management agency, or BPBD, on Oct. 24. The air quality index for both districts hit unhealthy levels that day, according to the data from the Indonesian environment ministry.Experts earlier this year warned of an exacerbated fire risk as a result of an intense dry season and El Niño weather pattern. Observers expect this year’s fires to be the worst since 2015, when similar conditions led to the razing of more than 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 square miles) of land, much of it peat forest. The fires are deliberately set to clear land for oil palm and pulpwood plantations, and the smoke they generate has sickened hundreds of thousands of people and spread as far as neighboring Singapore and Malaysia.In the wake of the 2015 fires, the Indonesian government rolled out a series of regulations and efforts to protect intact peat and rehabilitate burned lands, including the establishment of a Peat Restoration Agency (BRG). In South Sumatra province, the agency has carried out restoration programs in the districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Banyuasin, Musi Banyuasin, Muara Enim, and Musi Rawas.But fires have still flared up on peatlands across the province this year. In June, South Sumatra Governor Herman Deru was widely ridiculed after telling local media that the fires were likely started by sunlight reflecting off car windshields or by friction between tree branches.Smoke from forest fires obscures the landmark Ampera Bridge over the Musi River in Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra province. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.Ogan Komering IlirNearly half of Cengal subdistrict, which spans a little over 2,400 square kilometers (925 square miles), is peatland. Much of the peat area has been razed for oil palm and pulpwood plantations. On Oct. 24, fires were spotted on parts of these peatlands.There have been no government-led peat restoration efforts in Cengal, according to Mongabay Indonesia’s findings, despite it being an extensive peatland.The peat swamp served as a site of a key port during the Sriwijaya Empire up until the 12th century, and in the wake of the 2015 fires people flocked here in search of historical objects that may have been unearthed by the flames.The BPBD flight also went over the peatlands in nearby Pedamaran subdistrict. As with Cengal and other subdistricts here, much of the peatland in Pedamaran has been allocated for oil palm plantations, including in the Sepucuk area that President Joko Widodo visited during the 2015 fires. Several peat restoration projects have been carried out here, including digging water canals and wells to rewet the peat that had been drained for planting. Yet fires were still visible on the day the BPBD team flew over the area.A massive cloud of smoke billows from fires burning on peatland in Cengal subdistrict, Ogan Komering Ilir district. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.The advancing fires are clearly delineated by the haze in Cengal, Ogan Komering Ilir district. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.Black patches of scorched earth are left behind as fires sweep through peatlands in Cengal, Ogan Komering Ilir district. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.A specially equipped helicopter dumps water on burning peatland in Cengal, Ogan Komering Ilir district. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.A line of fire advances on traditional stilt homes as a helicopter drops water in a bid to douse the flames in Pedamaran subdistrict, Ogan Komering Ilir district. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.Some of the fires are located close to residential areas in Pedamaran, Ogan Komering Ilir district. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.Much of the land in Pedamaran subdistrict, Ogan Komering Ilir district, has been allocated for oil palm plantations. Burning has long been the cheapest and preferred method of clearing the land for planting, despite being illegal. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.Thick haze rises from peatland fires in Pedamaran, Ogan Komering Ilir district. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.Ogan IlirMuch of Ogan Ilir, which covers 2,500 square kilometers (970 square miles), is peat swamp, and fires and haze are an almost annual phenomenon here. Yet the district isn’t included on the list of sites for peat rehabilitation by the Peat Restoration Agency.Much of the peatlands across the district have been licenses out for oil palm plantations and other agriculture. The subdistricts of Inderalaya and Pemulutan have registered the highest number of fire hotspots this year.A member of the local disaster management agency, or BPBD, monitors the peat fires from the air above Ogan Ilir district. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.Strong winds and an unusually intense dry season have helped the fires spread quickly, including here in Ogan Ilir district. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.The area burned here in Ogan Ilir district is made up of smallholder farms for oil palms and other crops. Image by Nopri Ismi/Mongabay Indonesia.This story was first reported by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and published here on our Indonesian site on Oct. 27, 2019.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img