The Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) has declared disaster alert for forest and land fires that recently hit Sumatra and Kalimantan. In the province of Central Kalimantan, hundreds of hotspots have been detected with some districts covered with haze including the province’s capital city, Palangka Raya, where one could smell the smoke that contaminates the air.
Many parties involving local governments and fire-fighting communities are continuously working together to prevent and extinguish fires before they spread and turn into much a bigger disaster for the residents. For that reason, our recently established fire-fighting teams in the village of Kereng Bangkirai and Sabaru (MPA Kereng-Sabaru) have been fighting the land fires that recently spread in many areas in Palangka Raya. The two teams have been giving their best efforts to extinguish land fires that engulfed several areas in Palangka Raya such as Kereng Bangkirai, Yos Sudarso, Jl. G. Obos, Jl. Merdeka, Jl. Menteng Raya and some in Jekan Raya.
The MPAs consist of male and female members in the two neighbouring villages of Sabaru and Kereng Bangkirai which are the entrance gates to the last remaining peat-swamp forest in Kalimantan, Sabangau. It’s unique to see the female participation in combatting the fires considering the fact that this disastrous risk of land fires is long considered as male-associated responsibilities.
The teams are now actively involved in fighting the fires in Palangka Raya together with the other parties from local communities, police and military members, and government-related agencies. The land fires have reportedly spread and destroyed hectares of land in several areas in Palangka Raya and other districts in Central Kalimantan.
The community participation in extinguishing the fires is critical. It has helped the efforts to tackle the haze problem. Borneo Nature Foundation has been working together with the stakeholders and the government to provide the capacity building programme and training for local fire-fighting communities for fire prevention. Although the fires are spreading, we’re pleased to have seen responsive actions from the two teams that have been working so hard to extinguish the fires.
We thank our donors (the UK Government through Darwin Initiative, ICCTF, The Orangutan Project, Arcus Foundation, Orangutan Appeal UK, US fish and Wildlife Service, Zoos Victoria and LA Zoo) that have provided us with generous support in establishing firefighting teams that are now on the frontline combatting the fires. Your care and concern about the future of our environment is such a great inspiration for us all. (AE)