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Planning and Budgeting to Tackle Forest and Land Fires

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Forest and land fires (Karhutla) have once again struck the country, particularly in vulnerable areas such as Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java, and Nusa Tenggara.

It was recorded that since the end of August 2023, the incidence of forest and land fires has continued to increase and has the potential to cause adverse impacts as in the 2015 and 2019 forest and land fires.

In 2015, Karhutla burned more than 2.6 million hectares of forests and land, while in 2019, it affected over 1.6 million hectares, causing significant economic losses of approximately IDR 221 trillion in 2015 and IDR 73 trillion in 2019.

The losses incurred are not only economic but also include severe social problem and health disasters.

Until mid-October 2023, based on data from BMKG, the number of hotspots with a high level of confidence in 6 priority provinces including South Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan has indeed begun to decline from the previous 60,376 spots to 31,883 spots.

Based on data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (Sipongi), the area burned to date has reached 624 thousand hectares spread across 37 provinces.

These forest and land fires are predicted to continue if rain does not fall, and the El Nino phenomenon will potentially exacerbate the situation if rain does not fall until the end of October 2023.

BMKG predicts that the beginning of the rainy season in Indonesia will be delayed until November 2023, so anticipation and mitigation are needed early on.

Controlling forest and land fires

The main cause of forest and land fires is generally human behaviour in activities related to the use of fire.

In addition, extreme climatic conditions influenced by El Nino during the dry season and the biophysical conditions of degraded land are the drivers of forest and land fires.

Controlling forest and land fires includes three main aspects, namely prevention, extinguishing, and post-fire management.

From the various cases of forest and land fires experienced so far, one thing that cannot be denied is that handling forest and land fires (if it has become a widespread and uncontrollable fire) is very difficult and heavy.

In addition to the difficult terrain, the handling or extinguishing of forest and land fires also suffers from the availability of adequate equipment, mobilisation and availability of personnel, operational costs, and others.

Although the central government provides funding that can be accessed by local governments after a disaster status is declared, it is very difficult to extinguish fires, especially on peatlands.

Fires that have spread uncontrollably are generally extinguished after rainfall.

The government has spent a lot of money in tackling forest and land fires. During the period 2015-2019, no less than IDR 5.2 trillion of state money has been allocated and used for handling forest and land fires. This means that on average, the government spent more than IDR 1 trillion per year.

The financing of forest and land fire mitigation is the largest expenditure compared to prevention efforts, because mitigation or suppression will require financing for the rental of water bombing aircraft and helicopters as well as mobilisation and operational costs for suppression.

For example, the financing of forest and land fire disaster management in 2019 reached 3.4 trillion rupiah.

Forest and land fire budgeting

Reviewing and improving planning and budgeting related to forest and land fires is urgent.

Prioritising forest and land fire prevention is one of the 5 main points of the President’s direction in the Rakorsus Karhutla in 2021.

Prevention of forest and land fires needs to be translated into concrete programmes and activities in the field and not limited to alert rallies and coordination meetings.

Concrete prevention measures should be translated into programmes/activities and adequate budgets as needed.

In addition to maintaining important efforts in forest and land fire prevention such as the formation and coordination of Integrated Teams (TNI, Police, KLHK, BNPB, Local Government, Private), Weather Modification Technology (TMC) to sow rain.

In addition, it is necessary to conduct integrated planning in forest and land fire prevention to increase the intensity of activities and funding for activities such as joint patrols with fire awareness communities (MPA), counselling at the village community level, strengthening early warning systems, and peatland rewetting.

Then, also build peatland rewetting infrastructure, recruitment, training and provision of incentives to MPA members, provision of forest and land fire handling equipment for MPA and related Government Agencies.

There are also related campaigns and strengthening of information systems, increasing the independence of MPA through the development of productive economic activities, providing adequate operational costs for integrated teams at the provincial and district levels, and others according to the specific needs in each region.

Financial support from the central government to local governments also needs to be increased to support prevention activities that are channelled through technical implementation units of ministries/agencies in the regions.

In addition to the provision of funds to the regions through the Deconcentration Fund, and the Assistance Fund. Ready to Use (DSP) or on call funds available at the central government that can only be used in the event of a disaster should be allocated to support prevention programmes/activities.

Local governments at the provincial and district levels need to allocate a more significant amount of funding for forest and land fire prevention as outlined in the Agency Work Plan (OPD).

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Villages and Local Governments need to issue regulations to facilitate Village Governments to allocate Village Funds (DD) and Village Fund Allocations (ADD) for forest and land fire prevention and clearly account for their use.

The availability of integrated planning and adequate budgets at the central, provincial, district and village levels to support prevention efforts is expected to reduce the risk of widespread and uncontrolled forest and land fires.

Currently, a number of regions are still struggling with forest and land fires, with predictions of a delayed rainy season until early November 2023.

It is hoped that this year’s forest and land fires will not escalate into a haze disaster, that rain will fall soon, and that problems in the field can be overcome with the right mitigation and anticipation measures.

*) Hasbi Berliani works at Kemitraan/Partnership Jakarta.

Editor: Slamet Hadi Purnomo

Published at https://www.antaranews.com/berita/3783366/perencanaan-dan-penganggaran-untuk-mengatasi-kebakaran-hutan-dan-lahan