President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed related parties to devise early plans to tackle land and forest fires as hot spots have begun to emerge in several regions over the past two weeks. The official dry season begins in late January.
Jokowi warned all stakeholders attending the coordinated meeting on land and forest fire prevention at the State Palace that a failure to contain hot spots before they turned into fires could see the trauma of 2015 repeat itself this year. The fires that ravaged the country in 2015 resulted in Rp 220 trillion (S$23.4 billion) in material losses.
"We have to anticipate all possibilities in order not to see a repeat of 2015," Jokowi said.
During the meeting, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto reported on the progress made by the government to contain land and forest fires in 2016.
The number of hot spots in 2016 decreased by up to 82.14 per cent according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA satellites and up to 94.58 per cent according to Terra and Aqua satellites.
Wiranto said that in 2015 a total of 2.6 million hectares of land and forest were burned up but the figure decreased in 2016 to just 438,360 hectares, thanks in part to the La Nina weather phenomenon that lengthened the rainy season in a number of regions.
"In 2015, the emergency status went for 151 days, while in 2016 the figure decreased to zero. This is a very good achievement," Wiranto said.