With dry season in full swing, Indonesia’s new environment and forestry minister flew in a helicopter over fire hotspots last week in West Kalimantan province, among those most affected by an annual burning event that each year blankets the region in choking haze.
The minister, Siti Nurbaya, was joined in the flyover by disaster mitigation and local government and police officials. After touching down, she urged them to better regulate the use of fire as a land-clearing device by small farmers, whom the law allows to burn in accordance with “local wisdom.”
“If 100 farmers use fire, 200 hectares will go up in flames,” she said. “This can be addressed with the issuance of a local regulation (perda).”
A fire burns on an oil palm plantation in Borneo. Photo: Rhett A. Butler