Methodology: research tools | Fire and Haze

Methodology: research tools

This study investigates the political economy and realities of fire-setting in the Riau province of Sumatra, Indonesia. It will focus on several sites that have experienced extensive fires in 2013 and 2014 within a number of target districts, such as Bengkalis, Rokan Hilir, Dumai and Rokan Hulu.

The study includes four components:

Component 1. Fire policy and governance

This component focusses on identifying the divergent perceptions of fire and haze within a wide range of stakeholder groups, from the local, district, national and international level. Our study will provide new insights into the diverse perceptions and preferences associated with the peatland fires in Riau, Sumatra. Using Q methodology, we will identify clusters of shared opinions held across diverse stakeholder groups, and highlight points of disagreement and consensus. Such analysis can help to identify preferences for solutions, identify concerns, and guide where to focus future efforts. Amidst protracted, contentious policy debates, this data will also help to facilitate more constructive and directed negotiations and policy discussions, and help to ensure that interventions are mindful of the realities of people on-the-ground.

This component will contrast de jure policies/initiatives related to fire with de facto practices, including the narratives different actor groups tell about recent fire events.

This will involve an overview of de jure fire governance, including regulatory frameworks and current government initiatives that impact fire, for example the merger between Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Forestry, the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK)’s 2013 memorandum of understanding on forest gazettement, and the One Map Initiative.

This includes an analysis of which regulations do not work and why. The component will also identify policies that work and those that need improvements both in the policy substance and implementation issues.

Research will contrast these findings with de facto realities at target sites identified in Component 2, to consider how factors such as rule of law, regulatory effectiveness and corruption shape on-the-ground fire governance.

This component will include the following field work:

  • Stakeholder mapping in target areas (e.g. of elite, enforcement and firefighting bodies, large concession holders, medium-scale growers, local indigenous communities, different migrant communities, and absentee investors).
  • Focus group discussions and purposive interviews with categories of actors, to document the local narratives and de facto practices/rules about why and how fires are set. This will include questions on fire attribution and responsibility for specific recent fire events, related policies, community-concession relationships, tenure allocation, fire management, forest enforcement strategies, and power relations.
  • Triangulation through key informants interviews and additional data sets (e.g. possibly local enforcement statistics, case records).

Component 2. Fire events and their typologies

This component will create a typology of the 2013–2014 fire events, to highlight the diversity of contexts under which fire occurs, and to facilitate field site selection.

Research will integrate spatial plans and concession maps from small- and medium-sized enterprises awarded by different levels of government – such as Badan Pertanahan Nasional, Badan Perencana Pembangunan Daerah, Bupati’s Office, and customary – with detailed concession data from large companies in a Geographic Information System. This component will also work with Component 1 to map illegal land permits.

This work aligns with the government’s One Map Initiative to harmonize land-use mapping and to resolve the structural conflicts due to overlapping permits issued by central and local governments. It will also employ satellite imagery to identify areas developed by large companies, and the history of deforestation and fires. In doing so, this component will generate a typology of fires events occurring under diverse tenure arrangements.

Component 3. Understanding the political economy of fire practices in target landscapes

This component will target sites that represent cases from the fire typology (Component 2) to conduct economic analyses of fire events that consider ‘who gets what’ from fire, and the benefits and losses experienced by different actors at different levels along the value chains linked to fire.

This component will include:

  • Desk study, field work and focus group discussions to understand forward and backward linkages of fire events, economics of fire, and dominant economic actors.
  • Economic analysis to characterize benefits and losses that fires represent to different actor groups at different levels or along the value chains caused by fire.
  • Understanding of how fire and its economy influence and are influenced by local livelihoods.
  • Understanding potential incentive and disincentive mechanisms or options to solve fire and haze.

Component 4. Outreach and engagement

Throughout its implementation, the project will actively engage actors at all levels (including decision makers, community advocates, police, prosecutors and judges) that are best positioned and prepared to drive meaningful reform in Riau.

To ensure that the project is reaching the right people, champions in government and other institutions will be identified. These champions will be engaged as much as possible to ensure that they internalize the same understanding of the root causes of fire and haze and contribute to the discussion on ways to overcome these.

Engagement and information sharing will be done through a set of outreach activities. There will be focus group discussions, consultations and small bilateral meetings; bigger events will also be organized in collaboration with partners to bring together different stakeholders and contribute to the engagement of policy makers.

Research findings will be packaged and communicated using a wide range of formats, including blogs, videos and presentations in English and Bahasa Indonesia. Research findings will be shared across CIFOR’s extensive social media networks and through traditional media (sub-national, national and international) through media partnerships and media outreach activities.



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