Indonesia has taken a world-leading role in exploring how to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from degraded tropical peatland. In this regard, reducing the risk of peat fires is a critical part of ensuring the long-term security of tropical forests and peatlands.

government fire fighters

Government stakeholders actively working in the arena of fire prevention are the government fire fighters at provincial, district and village levels, as well as the national and provincial government agencies, especially the fire-fighting brigades (Manggala Agni).

Fire Care Community groups

In recent years, the government has also been building fire preparedness on peatlands by promoting and establishing village-level fire prevention and fire-fighting programs. The government is also establishing Fire Care Community groups (Masyarakat Peduli Api, MPA) in peatland areas, and promoting fire prevention programs that provide external support to villagers who can usually only afford to clear land by using fire. These community fire care groups conduct regular fire patrols, and monitor fire risk using remote technology. Local communities are educated on the dangers of using fire on peatland and given financial and logistical support to clear land without using fire. Patrolling of peatland areas is increased, and enforcement of regulations concerning misuse of peatlands is strengthened.

peatland rehabilitation programs

Some companies and non-government organizations (NGOs) have also created peatland rehabilitation programs that seek to educate local communities about the importance of peatlands and to encourage them to protect remaining forested areas. Thus, village-level community fire prevention programs are known by many names – Fire-Free Village (Desa Peduli Api), Fire Care Community groups (MPA) and Fire Alert Villages (Desa Siaga Api) – but all of these programs generally feature the same core activities: providing village fire-fighters with the training and equipment they need to suppress fires; conducting regular community-based fire patrols; monitoring fire risk via satellite hotspot maps and ground verification; training villages in alternative ways to clear land without fire, providing machinery and equipment; and monitoring and rewarding performance.

Peat-Aware Villages

In addition, social forestry schemes are also a component of BRGM’s Peat-Aware Villages (Desa Peduli Gambut) program and these can also increase community-led fire prevention. Social forestry schemes have proven successful in preventing both deforestation and fires as they give communities a sense of ownership over the forest. Furthermore, social forestry can complement alternative livelihood schemes that do not require burning or drainage.