Fires have been increasing in size and frequency across the tropics in recent decades, particularly in tropical peatland areas. Indonesia has the largest amount of tropical peat carbon globally. Fires in fuel-rich tropical peatlands are a major source of carbon emissions, have serious consequences for human health, destroy or degrade habitat, and result in high economic costs. There have been many calls for a better understanding of the relative contributions of the biophysical and anthropogenic factors that drive fire, as this understanding would contribute to the success of efforts to reduce these fires. This dissertation uses remote sensing, fieldwork, and modeling to explore the dynamics of fire disturbance in Indonesia and investigates this disturbance from the framework of coupled human and natural systems, where complex interactions between the social and the biophysical are explicitly considered.
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