In the last three years, forest and land fires in Indonesia have consumed 2.5 million hectares of forest and land. The details are in 2019 with an area of 1.6 million hectares. In 2020, the area of forest and land fires decreased to 296,000 hectares and increased to 358,000 hectares in 2021. In 2022, the area of forest and land fires decreases again to 204,000 hectares. That's four times the size of Ukraine, which is now fighting an invasion by Russia.
Indonesia's losses due to the impact of forest and land fires throughout 2019 reached US$5.2 billion or the equivalent of Rp 72.95 trillion (exchange rate of Rp 14,000). The World Bank's calculation of economic losses is based on massive forest fires in eight priority provinces, namely Central Kalimantan, South Sumatra, South Kalimantan, Riau, West Kalimantan, Jambi, East Kalimantan and Papua. The World Bank estimates that Indonesia's economic growth will be reduced by 0.09% and 0.05% in 2019 and 2020, respectively, as a result of the forest fires.
Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya said that forest and land fires will increase significantly in 2023. In the period from January 1 to 19, 2023, 31 hotspots were observed. This number increased by 29 percent compared to the same period in 2022. One of the contributing factors is the long dry season accompanied by low rainfall. This is known as a climate anomaly: the lack of rainfall leads to hot weather.
Of course, forest and land fires have long been a scourge for the Indonesian government, as they not only cause forest and land loss and threaten wildlife, but also threaten public health in Indonesia. Therefore, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia (Kemenkes RI) has issued a circular letter on May 23, 2023 on preparedness for forest and land fires. Because in the previous period, 900 thousand people in Sumatra Island and Kalimantan Island suffered from acute respiratory infection or ISPA due to forest and land fires.
It should be noted that during the World Environment Day event in 2021, Siti Nurbaya pledged that between 2015 and 2021, ecosystem restoration activities conducted by the government and multi-stakeholders have succeeded in restoring 4.69 million hectares of land, including peatlands and mangroves, aimed at increasing the productivity of degraded forest and land ecosystems. However, this does not seem to be enough to stop forest and land fires in Indonesia.
The Indonesian government has also enacted the Environmental Protection and Management Law (PPLH) No. 32 of 2009, which allows land clearing by burning under certain conditions. The criminal penalty for those who burn land is imprisonment for a minimum of three years and a maximum of 10 years and a fine of between Rp 3 billion and Rp 10 billion.
Apart from this, CAN Indonesia, as an organization focused on the world of conservation, restoration and wildlife rescue, supports the efforts of the Indonesian government in anticipating more massive forest and land fires, especially on the island of Kalimantan. Not only that, CAN Indonesia will also prepare concrete steps to repair the burned forests and lands in the hope that this condition will improve soon.