Peatland fires can cause massive losses from various sectors, such as ecology, health, climate, and also the economy.

Ecological impact

Peatland fires cause damage to the peat’s ecological functions, which can last long after the fire is over.  After the forest and peatland fires in 2015, the water in the Sebangau River has reportedly become five times more acidic. Another impact is the loss of flora and fauna habitat, which threatens biodiversity in the area.

Impact on human health

The effects of the 1997 forest and land fires are estimated to have caused respiratory tract infections in 20 million people. Meanwhile, the 2015 fires fires are estimated to have caused respiratory tract infections in about 500 thousand people. Haze from the fires also caused an increase in cases of premature death and traffic accidents due to limited visibility.

Impact on climate 

Greenhouse gas emission resulting from forest and land fires in 2015 is estimated at 1.6 million tons of CO2, more than the total daily greenhouse gas emission in the United States.  Greenhouse gas emission contributes to the accelerating rate of global warming.

Impact on the economy

The estimated total state loss resulting from the forest and land fires in 2015 was USD 16 billion, or equivalent to 1.8% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Total state loss due to the 2019 forest and land fires is around USD 5.2 billion. Peatland fires also cause massive economic losses, including losses in the agriculture, forestry, transportation, trade, industry, tourism, and other sectors.

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