April 11, 2019

Govt efforts dramatically reduce haze in last three years

JAKARTA ( - The scale of peat fires in Indonesia has been reduced dramatically, by more than 90%, over the past three years compared to the catastrophic level of peat fires in 2015. This represents a real achievement of the leadership of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The governments of Singapore and Malaysia are also grateful to President Jokowi because their residents have not been affected by choking haze, mainly due to peat fires, for  the last three years.

Furthermore, Indonesian citizens living and working in these two neighboring countries have also benefited from this largely haze-free period. 

These points were conveyed by Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency Chief Nazir Foead in a policy discussion with held in Jakarta (Apr 9). 

“There are still some peat fires burning in certain very confined locations, but the government is now handling these much more quickly, with military and police support, to ensure that the impact is not widespread for local communities and surrounding areas,” he added.

Data-based evidence

When asked what evidence-based measures had been taken to support the government’s performance, the peat agency chief presented two key graphs showing a sharp decline in the number of hotspots over the past three years in the agency's key targeted peat restoration areas.

The first graph, Nazir explained, indicates a drop of over 95% in the amount of hotspot data (NASA/FIRMS) in targeted peat restoration areas over the past three years.

This pertains to locations burned by 2015's peat fires, covering an area equivalent to almost 900 thousand football fields which formed the peat agency’s target.

Meanwhile, the second graph, he continued, demonstrates that there has also been a fall of more than 90% in the number of hotspots in non-concession areas, covering more than one million hectares.

These have been the peat agency's core priority locations over the past three years, more than 620 thousand football fields of which were affected by 2015's devastating peat fires. 

A remarkable job

In a recent report by (Apr 5), Norway's special envoy for the international climate and forest initiative, Stig Ingemar Traavik, gave his view that one of the most remarkable jobs of President Jokowi’s administration has been the ending of peat fires.

In the wake of 2015's massive peat fires, which impeded the country's economic growth in that year, President Jokowi was on the front line making sure that such large-scale peat fires would never recur.

Subsequently, in early January 2016, President Jokowi established the Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) to accelerate the restoration of two million hectares of peat areas burned in 2015, covering seven priority provinces in the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. 

The President did not stop there however. Instead he put the brakes on any new development of peatlands by signing a revised government regulation at the beginning of December 2016 banning new peat drainage.

The few companies found to have violated this revised government regulation have been hit with strict sanctions by the Environment and Forestry Ministry, even though some companies remain uncompliant.


World Bank estimates that the economic losses caused by 2015's extremely damaging forest and land fires, especially those that occurred in peatlands, amounted to more than USD16 billion.

In light of this, President Jokowi has taken serious preventive measures to ensure that such a situation never happens again.