Forest fires have been a longstanding problem in Indonesia’s forestry sector.
Major fires have occurred in Indonesia since the 1960s, but peat fires became the focus of public attention in 1997, during the implementation of the Mega Rice Project, a government initiative to turn one million hectares of peatland into paddy fields. Based on data from BAPPENAS-ADB in 1999, it is estimated that the peat forest fires of 1997-1998 scorched 2.1 million hectares of peatlands in Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Papua.
Since then, peat fires continued to occur, albeit on a smaller scale, until another series of massive peat fires occurred in 2015, scorching a total of 194,787.88 hectares of peatland.
Following the massive peatland fires in 2015, the Indonesian government began to focus on restoring and protecting Indonesia’s peat forests by issuing Government Regulation No. 57 of 2016 concerning the Protection and Management of the Peatland Ecosystem and establishing the Peat Restoration Agency.
Despite this, however, large peat fires occurred once again in 2019, burning 711,927.30 hectares of land, spreading toxic haze to neighboring countries.