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Understanding the role of climate in Indonesian fires, to better support fire management interventions

25 Jul 2019, Century Park Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia.

This workshop is part of CIFOR’s USAID-funded project:  Fire in the tropics: Understanding, foreseeing and acting on future fire risk in tropical landscapes

Background information

A recent spike in the frequency of large wildfires worldwide has raised concerns about the influence of climate change and human activities on fire activity in the future. Disagreement exists on the relative importance of these factors in shaping global fire regimes. A particular gap exists in the pantropical region where fire has long been present in savannas and dry ecosystems, but has a much more recent, infrequent and unknown role in wet rainforest ecosystems.

New global fire modelling on the effects of climate, land cover and population growth suggests consecutive marked shifts of global fire regimes over time (Pechony and Shindell 2010). From a strongly precipitation-driven (rather than temperature-driven) regime in pre-Industrial times, to a human-driven global fire regime after the industrial revolution (through fire suppression), and to future projections suggesting an impending shift to a temperature-driven global fire regime. If these modelling results are correct, the 21st century will create an unprecedentedly fire-prone environment outweighing direct human influences on fire (both ignition and suppression). These trends will have dire and imminent effects on fire management policies which will have to adapt to a world where climate, through temperature mediated fuel desiccation, drives global fire regimes.


Peat fires in Indonesia are recognized as national emergencies, the key source of regional haze and associated health, environmental and economic impacts. Fire smog has alarmingly high levels of air pollution both small particle densities and heavy metals, and has led to the premature death of people in Indonesia and further afield, throughout the region. Fires are highly episodic with a strong El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influence, but recent years have shown peaks in fire activity under normal rainfall conditions. This is because fires are located in a limited number of districts in Sumatra and Kalimantan where peatland disturbance (i.e. drainage) and increasing accessibility have led to more fire, sometimes independently of climatic conditions (e.g. through drainage). To contain and to reduce fire damages, many fire management interventions have been promoted in the form of policies, institutional activities, private-public partnerships, fiscal incentives, technical support and institutional reforms. However, it is unclear how climate can over-ride fire management efforts, or which areas in the country are more reactive to climate than the others. This understanding would help governmental officers, private companies, research centers and society in general to better navigate future fire management action on the ground.


Through this interactive workshop we will discuss fire-climate reactivity and identify, which fire management interventions (FMI) could be more efficient to reduce fire risk and fire danger. We also aim to receive feedback based on the participants’ experiences with FMI.


Pechony O and Shindell D.T. 2010. Driving forces of global wildfires over the past millennium and the forthcoming century. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107: 19167-19170.

Contact Point

  • Rosa Roman-Cuesta (r.roman-cuesta[at]cgiar[dot]org)



Workshop Agenda

8.45-9.20 Registration
9.20-9.45 Welcome by CIFOR director general and workshop introduction: goals and background
9.45-11.15 Presentations + discussion:

  • The national context of fire
  • Fire trends in Indonesia: Connection with climate and land dynamics (CIFOR)
  • National fire statistics (MOEF)
  • Fire danger rating system-operations and use in Indonesia (BMKG + CIFOR)
  • Fire GHG Inventories and NDCs (MOEF)
11.15- 11.45 Coffee break served in the room
11.45-12.15 Presentations + discussion:

  • A historical perspective of regulatory frameworks for FMI
  • Grand Design for Fire Prevention and an Example of Action Research
  • A summary of post 2015 FMI in Indonesia: gaps and needs
12.15-12.45 Introducing group dynamics: maps and FMI
11.15- 11.45 Lunch
13.45- 14.00 Questionnaire on FMI perceptions
14.00-15.15 Explanations on FMI-SWOT dynamics and group rotations
15.15-.15.30 Coffee break served in the room
15.30- 16.30 FMI-SWOT reporting and discussion
16.30-16.45 Wrap up and next steps


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