Stakeholders Perceptions of Community Fire Brigades (MPAs): An Assessment Using SWOT-AHP in Indonesia Peatland Frontiers

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Fire events on peatland in Indonesia occur almost every year and have become more extensive in recent decades. These uncontrolled peat fires have an alarming impact on ecosystems, human health, and the economy. Various efforts have been made by the Indonesian government to address the issue, including regulations on the establishment of community fire brigades (Masyarakat Peduli Api-MPA). Although MPAs are required through government regulations, villagers membership is voluntary, mobilized through concern about fires. MPA members aim to control fires, patrol their designated areas, and raise awareness about the negative impacts of fires within their communities. Previous studies have shown that MPAs might play an important role in implementing local land and forest fire prevention, but they have not been able to carry out their duties properly. Challenges facing MPAs include: inadequate facilities and infrastructure; lack of guidance/aegis from government and influential actors; a lack of financial resources; and strong demand for oil palm and land, which leads to peat fires in the first place. To understand better the challenges facing MPAs from their own perspective, we studied perceptions about MPAs of four stakeholder groups involved in their implementation: MPA community members; local governments (Desa level); non-governmental organizations; and industries (oil palm and pulpwood). We also assessed how these groups perceive the opportunities faced by MPAs in addressing the peat fire challenge in Indonesia. This research aimed to understand which efforts can be targeted to support the work of MPAs and develop strategies to empower the MPA members in their efforts to prevent fire incidence. A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis in combination with an analytic hierarchy process (AHP) was employed to accomplish this task. The results show that MPAs, local governments, and NGOs have similar perceptions about MPAs, while industries have a distinct point of view. MPAs, local governments, and NGOs conveyed that the highest priority and the central importance of MPAs is their strength in securing various lines of support from diverse actors. The industry group perceived the negative factors were more important than the positive factors of MPAs. As for opportunities, all stakeholder groups prioritized the same opportunity: strengthening MPAs by increasing their partnership networks. The threats to MPAs were prioritized quite differently among the four stakeholder groups, ranging from Communities lack understanding of and ignore fire issues and policies (MPA) to Inadequate and sometimes unfair regulations and inadequate enforcement (industry).

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