Fighting Fire with Forest Credits: REDD+ in Indonesia
Blanketing South Asia with a dense haze that provokes respiratory illnesses, destroying unique peat soils of tropical forests, and intensely stimulating the global warming effect– Indonesian forests fires are of the most severe climate challenges in history. Indonesia is the planet’s third richest in tropical rainforests country, where rainforests occupy 68% of the territory. Every year 1,7 million hectares out of the 131.3 million ha of Indonesia’s rainforests total square are burnt, what means that the deforestation rates of the region are very high.
According to the satellite data, the worst affected by the fires territories are western Sumatra and southern Kalimantan, but the rest of the country’s forests are also on fire. The acrid haze from the fires is spreading to the neighboring with Indonesia countries too: southern Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia have been reached.As every climate disaster does, Indonesian forests fires have a range of consequences in different aspects of life. First of all, most obviously it’s about the loss of tropical forests what is not only about the burden for the planet’s climate, but also – about destroying the home of abundance of animal species, among which are endangered ones, such as orangutans. Because of the dense acrid haze, human health also became endangered, with respiratory disorders. Since the start of the forest fires it has been reported about 19 deaths and 500000 cases of respiratory infections. It was also reported that more than 100000 premature deaths could be caused during this period.Basically, forest fires is a natural mechanism of ecosystem regeneration, which happens rarely, but on regular basis. In Indonesian forests they also used to appear due to natural reasons, but in the last three decades forest fires became especially frequent.
The first in the range of these severe fires during the last decades were the fires of 1982-1983 years then followed by the very severe fires of 1997-1998 years, and the next outstandingly harsh fires are already taking place in 2015. In between the years of the most prominent forest fire onsets there were almost no fire-free years, but those fires were of smaller scales with less significant consequences. Thus said, Indonesian forest fires became an annual phenomenon. In this ruinous shift in Indonesian forest fire ‘schedule’ some researchers blame the Indonesian government’s decision to open forests to industries’ exploitation in the name of Indonesians’ well-being and development of the state’s economy. Palm oil, timber and paper industries became the legal and welcomed consumers of Indonesian forest territories that paid taxes to the government, but brought irreparable harm to the invaluable forest resources.
For example, growing of palm trees for palm oil production demands dry soils, and the industry doesn’t know cheaper and more efficient way of solving this problem on the territory of wet rainforests than to burn those wet soils and forests. Aside of destroying the unique ecosystem, such an approach have brought even a more dramatic consequence – the fire from trees went underground, so that …