The government has declared 16 provinces across the country as prone to forest and land fires ahead of the upcoming El Niño, a climate pattern linked to warming waters in the central and eastern areas of the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
Such weather phenomena are known to trigger an extension of the dry season in Indonesia, which can increase the risk of wildfire.
An official with the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, Bambang Sugeng, said the emergency declaration that certain areas were wildfire-prone was done as a warning for these regions to stay alert to prevent forest and land fires.
“We are prioritising some provinces, such as South Sumatra, Jambi, Aceh and Riau,” Bambang said after a coordination meeting in South Sumatra recently. He added that most of these regions had vast areas of peat land that could easily burn during the dry season.
Four additional provinces have been added to the list of fire-prone areas since last year, namely Bengkulu, East Nusa Tenggara, Papua and West Papua, because agencies recorded wildfires breaking out in those regions throughout 2018.
Bambang said authorities were still waiting for a report from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) on the start of the prolonged dry season because the climatic conditions of each region were different.
Source: Jakarta Post
Photo: Asia Sentinel