Jon Afrizal, Jambi – An environmental NGO is warning authorities of a potential increase of forest fires in Jambi during the dry season, as satellites detected dozens of hot spots – identified as land fires – spreading across the province over the past week.
Citing data compiled by the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) from NASA's MODIS satellites, the Warsi Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI Warsi) said that at least 38 hot spots have been detected in Jambi between July 23 and 30.
Most of the hot spots were found in the concession areas belonging to companies granted industrial forest permits (HTI) and oil palm plantations granted right-to-cultivate permits (HGU), while 15 hot spots were found on peat land in Muarojambi regency.
"Putting out fires on peat land takes a longer time. Given the dry condition of the land, we are worried that the fires can spread to other areas if they aren't handled correctly," KKI Warsi director Rudi Syaf said on Tuesday.
The dry season is expected to peak soon between August and September, Rudi said, adding that more hot spots in the area might also occur because of a weak El Nino as shown by the 1 degree Celsius increase of the temperature of the surface of the Pacific Ocean at the equator.
"Land and forest fires can be triggered by natural phenomenon, as well as by human activities," he said.
The Jambi administration had implemented a 2016 bylaw on forest fire prevention and control, Rudi said, and therefore local authorities should be able to prevent the fires from spreading as quickly as possible before the peak of the dry season.
According to the Jambi Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency's data, the hot spots had spread in seven of the province's 11 regencies and cities, including in Batanghari, Bungo, Kerinci and Merangin, as well as on peat lands in Muarojambi, Sarolangun and West Tanjungjabung.
The Jambi Forest Agency had recorded a decline in the extent of forest fires in the province, from a massive forest fire that burned 19,528 hectares of land and forest in 2015 to 257.39 ha in 2016.
However, the agency's data showed that land and forest fires increased again in the following years, raging across 579 ha in 2017 and 970.16 in 2018.
"We need to work together with other stakeholders to prevent forest fires from spreading this year," Jambi Forest Agency head Ahmad Bastari said. (ars/afr)