A lucrative illegal market for land to plant crops such as oil palm is a major cause of annual fires in Indonesia, a senior forestry researcher says, with the racket driven by complicit local officials and the global demand for commodities. Dr Herry Purnomo is part of a team at the Bogor-based Centre for International Forestry Research looking at the political economy of fires and haze in Indonesia.
Industri seharusnya menjadi bagian penting untuk membantu serta memberikan solusi preventif dan represif dalam penanganan kasus kebakaran hutan di Indonesia. Herry Purnomo menilai, selama ini informasi yang diberikan pemerintah tidak memadai sehingga penegakan sulit dilakukan. Karena itu, kata Herry, pemerintah harus transparan mengungkap nama perusahaan pelaku pembakaran lahan. Singapura mengesahkan undang-undang polusi udara lintas-perbatasan tahun lalu, yang memungkinkan pengadilan untuk mengadili perusahaan nakal yang bertanggung jawab melakukan pembakaran lahan.”Jika pemerintah transparan, para pelaku dapat dijerat dengan peraturan yang tegas dari negara lain yang terkena dampak seperti Singapura. Pemerintah jangan menunggu, lebih baik mengungkapkan saja,” kata dia.
We would like to highlight a grave factual inaccuracy that appeared in your article “Govt revokes, suspends licenses of forest burners” dated Sept. 23, 2015, page 4. Your article stated: “According to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) database, HSL is a subsidiary of Raja Garuda Emas, previously known as Raja Garuda Mas, a business group controlled by one of the country’s richest businessmen, Sukanto Tanoto. Sukanto also owns RAPP.”
Singapore ordered immediate closure of schools as air quality becomes worse due to thick smogs from Indonesian forest fires. Meanwhile, Centre for International Forestry Research scientist Herry Purnomo believes that Singapore and Malaysia should share the responsibility for the fires as both countries are “carbon credit buyers” and benefit profit from Indonesia’s palm oil, as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald
What is causing the haze and why? The haze comes from fires set to clear forest land for agriculture, often palm-oil plantations. It is an annual occurrence but many researchers say it is worse this year because of severe drought caused by El Nino. Herry Purnomo, a researcher at the Center for International Forestry Research, says clearing land by fire is fast and about 10 times cheaper than using machinery. Demand for cleared land has risen alongside demand for palm oil, which is found in a wide variety of products including shampoo and ice cream, he said. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of the commodity and plantations owned by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean companies earned about $18.4 billion in revenue last year, Mr. Purnomo said.
The serious air pollution (euphemistically referred to as ‘haze’) emanating from Indonesian forest fires has continued to result in wide-ranging harm, not only to human health, but also to people’s security as well as to local and national economies. Prof Harry Purnomo of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor estimates that Indonesia has suffered US$4 billion (S$5.7 billion) in economic losses this year – through agriculture production, forest degradation, health, transportation, tourism and other areas – as a result of forest fires.
Singapore and Malaysia should share responsibility for the annual forest fires that have cloaked the region in deadly haze by buying carbon credits from Indonesia, according to the Indonesia-based Centre for International Forestry Research.
Fires in Indonesia are not like most other fires. They are extremely difficult to extinguish. The root cause is large deposits of peat—a soil-like mixture of partly decayed plant material formed in wetlands—lining the coasts of Borneo and Sumatra. “Most burning starts on idle, already-cleared peatlands and escapes underground into an endless source of fuel,” explained David Gaveau of the Center for International Forestry Research.