Integrated Forest Fire Management

Project Description
Background:

In 1982/83 one of the largest forest fires of this century raged for
several months through an estimated 5 million ha of Borneo's tropical
rainforests. The Indonesian province East Kalimantan was the area
worst hit by the burning. Since then, fire has been a recurring
feature on the island of Borneo, burning large areas in 1986, 1991,
1994 and 1997/98. In 1997/98, the fires again hit East Kalimantan very
hard, an estimated 5.2 mio ha of land was burned during this time. The
haze from these fires covered the South East Asian region for weeks,
causing health problems, disruption to shipping and aviation,
culminating in the closure of international airports. Economic losses
and ecological damage were enormous.

Wildfires in Indonesia are almost always human caused. A large
percentages of all wildfires result from escaped land-clearing fires,
or are a result of land use conflicts and land speculation. Fire is
the most common tool used by smallholders as well as for the agro- and
forest industries to prepare the land. Increasingly Indonesia's fire
and haze problem is being ascribed to large-scale forest conversion
and land clearing activities (pulp wood, rubber tree and oil palm
plantations). The fires can be ascribed as a symptom for the under
lying problems of land use planning as well as conflicts over land
use. Without solving these issues fire management will not be
successful. An extreme fire season usually occurs every 3-5 years,
when the climate in Indonesia becomes exceptionally dry due to the "El
Ni?o Southern Oscillation".

Project Description:

During Phase I (1994-1997) of IFFM, an appropriate level of fire
protection, training needs, suitable equipment, necessary fire
intelligence, institutional and structural support were
evaluated and determined in a pilot area. Cooperation with
relevant government agencies and timber concessionaires has
been ongoing. At the village level, socio-economic studies
have been carried out to elaborate a concept of
community-based fire management and to organise volunteer fire
response crews. Fire prevention material has been produced to
raise public awareness. Since the second phase, the scheme
determined in the Bukit Soeharto pilot area has been
replicated in other areas of East Kalimantan. Local fire
centres at all the 10 Cabang Dinas Kehutanan (District Forest
Offices) as well as National Parks are being established and
equipped, and personnel at all levels trained to prevent and
respond to wildfires. These local fire centres will form the
core of a fire management system for the! province. The
provincial fire centre in Samarinda, located at DINAS
Kehutanan, will coordinate fire management activities in East
Kalimantan. It will collect information from the local
offices, provide fire intelligence (fire hot spot locations,
fire danger rating, radio communications) and coordinate the
sharing of equipment and fire-fighting personnel between fire
stations.

Contact:

Integrated Forest Fire Management Project (IFFM)
Jl. Harmonika, Komp. Dinas Kehutanan
Tromol Pos 826 (KT), Samarinda 75001, INDONESIA
Tel.: ++62 541 732625 Fax.: ++62 541 733519
E-mail:iffmfire@samarinda.org

Project homepage: http://www.iffm.org/

[Summary provided by IFFM]