Forest and land fires have been occurring in Indonesia over the last 17 years. The biggest fire event occurred in 1997, causing significant economic and health losses – millions of people were affected by respiratory disease. The damages were conservatively estimated to be US$4.47 billion in Indonesia alone.
There have been a number of studies conducted that have sought to understand how and in what ways fires are used in various land-based activities, including the impact of fire on humans, forest biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The Indonesian Government has made efforts to curb and prevent fires. However, poor governance among institutions at different levels is still a challenge and as a result forest fires have become a disaster. Possible prevention measures, such as canal blocking, are known but their implementation is limited.
The study conducted by CIFOR provided insight for policymakers on how fire causes loss for many while benefiting few, and demonstrated that policies should move from fire suppression to prevention.
FTA research and activities conducted by CIFOR have ensured that decision makers have an understanding of the on-the-ground dynamics (economic, social and political) that cause fires in Indonesia, and have encouraged the Indonesian Government to place fire prevention strategies onto their agenda.