Hundreds of fire ‘hotspots’ have been detected inside
corporate-run plantations in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, as
land fires cast a pall of smoke across the island once again, according to the
The annual debate over blame for the cause of the fires has
re-emerged with the smoke in recent weeks, following relatively mild years in
2016 and 2017. The haze of 2015, which had huge environmental, health and
economic impacts, prompted President Joko Widodo to announce a raft of measures
aimed at preventing fires in carbon-rich peatlands.
Walhi has detected 765 hotspots in plantation boundaries so
far this year, according a
report in Mongabay.
Walhi executive director Nur Hidayati told Mongabay that the
government is blaming smallholders for this year’s fires because its own
firefighting efforts so far have been focused on areas close to these villages.
“But [fires on] companies’ concessions that are far from
villages are being ignored,” she said.
Walhi has also called on the authorities to take action
against companies with fires on their concessions, ahead of pursuing local
farmers. This month Ministry of Environment and Forestry sealed off concessions
held by five companies in Kubu Raya district, West Kalimantan. It did not
identify the companies by name.