Jakarta: National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Head Lieutenant General Suharyanto pressed for constant vigil from regional governments to the likelihood of forest and land fires despite a decline in their incidents.
"This decline is actually a challenge for all of us: how to prevent forest and land fires from occurring in the future," Suharyanto noted as quoted in a BNPB press release received here on Thursday.
At a coordination meeting held here on Wednesday to discuss the handling of haze due to forest and land fires, the agency head explained that the area of forest and land fires in Indonesia in 2021 had declined by up to 78 percent from 2019 and the area of peatland fires was down by 92 percent during the 2016-2021 period.
According to data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, a decrease in the incidence of forest and land fires was recorded in the provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan.
After the decline, Suharyanto underscored the importance of stepping up alertness in order to prevent and handle forest and land fires early.
He accentuated the significance of early handling of hotspots in an effort to prevent forest and land fires.
"Do not let the fire get bigger, and do not let the handling be too late. Once the fire has gotten big, it will be more difficult (to handle)," the BNPB head cautioned.
During the dry season, hot and dry weather has the risk of triggering forest and land fires, including fires on peatlands, the largest carbon storage.
When peatlands burn, the fire can spread to layers of peat up to four meters deep, thereby making it difficult to extinguish.