Monitoring of peatland and peat fires requires the collection of location-specific social and economic data as well as biophysical data at many scales to better understand the human actions and biophysical drivers of fires in tropical peatlands. 

The social dimension is of great importance because peatland fires do not start naturally, but through human actions. For example, wet peatlands in which people start fires are low risk, but equally, so are dry peatlands where people do not start fires. 

For this reason, Indonesia is now studying which social and economic elements should be incorporated into the standard Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS) by collecting data about livelihoods and economic patterns and trends for thousands of villages. In this way, it is possible to prioritize areas of high fire probability for effective fire management planning.

On the ground, the monitoring of biophysical elements must include making measurements of peat moisture, precipitation and fuel loads, as these are key to determining how much a fire will spread. Peat moisture measurements include measuring the water table depth below the ground and the moisture percentage of the peat near the surface, and it is thus also important to measure the level of precipitation falling on the surface which influences these. 


In terms of fuel loads, light vegetation on the surface can ignite fires but solid pieces of fuel are needed to transition those fires into subsurface fires as the peat itself does not catch fire easily. This is highly important in peatlands, as a subsurface fire is far more dangerous than a surface fire in terms of its longevity and toxicity, as well as the thickness of the smoke and level of greenhouse gas emissions it produces. Thus, when studying fires on peatland, it is critical to be able to predict whether the fire will stay on the surface or whether it will transition below the surface and become a peat fire.