Climate Awareness: The Recurring Forest Fires in Borneo

30. October 2023|In Indonesia, News

This year, Indonesia faced a challenge triggered by El Niño – a long dry season that led to more forest and land fires. As a result these fires created smoky haze, putting public health at risk and damaging forests across multiple Indonesian islands.

In Central Kalimantan, where our project is located, this haze took a toll on people’s lives. It required and led to immediate action from the government and various groups to develop policies, conduct scientific studies, and launch awareness campaigns.

There were 3,230 documented cases of forest and land fires in Central Kalimantan in just the first ten months of 2023. These fires destroyed a vast area of approximately 9,136.81 hectares, including both forests and vacant lands.

But that’s not all, as mentioned before with the haze resulting from these fire incidents, the people of Central Kalimantan had to endure poor air quality for two weeks in September and October. The air was so bad that it reached dangerous levels. Masks became a must when going outside, and offices and schools had to cut their hours short to avoid the worst of the haze. The schools were mandated to be closed for a week to protect childrens’ health. This situation pushed the government to declare a state of emergency and to experiment with weather modification techniques to make it rain.

Our project was also effected by the forest fires. On top of worrying about the safety of our field teams from both fires and the unhealthy air, some trees of our hardworking farmers were destroyed. Fortunately, the numbers of affected trees were low.

“If anything we should be living healthily as we live close to this big forest, but when the forest is on fire, our health is threatened instead,” explained our farmer Saminah, in Gunung Mas sadly. 

But although there was a setback, it stresses the importance to fight climate change even more. This recurring forest fire crisis in Borneo is a wake-up call about our changing climate and how it’s affecting us in numerous ways. Our planet is calling for help, and it’s our duty to respond. Therefore we need to raise awareness about the forest fires and we will replant the loss. Let’s continue to create a more healthy environment and future!