Fire and haze in Riau: Looking beyond the hotspots

Remote sensing analyses of the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu biosphere reserve, indicating June 2013 fires in bright red, located inside forest reserves, planted forests and in transition zones. See here for more detail.

Remote sensing analyses of the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu biosphere reserve, indicating June 2013 fires in bright red, located inside forest reserves, planted forests and in transition zones. See here for more detail.

Reading this blog entry, you are most likely already aware of the fires in Riau province in Sumatra that have caused haze problems as far away as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. You are no doubt aware that these fires indicate high rates of deforestation and high emissions of CO2 from peatlands. But you probably also share my concern about the lack of information and want to know more.

Last week (28-30 August), a team from CIFOR travelled to Riau on a fact-finding mission to better understand the issues from a local and in-depth perspective. We also wanted to identify priority research topics related to governance, livelihoods, the environment and economics of the Riau landscape.

We decided that the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu biosphere reserve would be a suitable landscape to examine more closely. The area was acknowledged as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2009 and extends over 700,000 ha – almost 10% of Riau province – in an area dominated by peatlands.

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