Be Aware of the Impact of Forest Fires
Widespread uncontrolled forest fires will certainly have a negative impact on society and damage biodiversity and ecosystems. Don't wait until it gets worse, as happened with Jakarta's air pollution.
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The following article was translated using both Microsoft Azure Open AI and Google Translation AI. The original article can be found in Waspadai Dampak Kebakaran Hutan
For quite some time, air pollution has hit Jakarta and its surroundings. The air quality index (AQI) is more than 150, or in the dangerous category.
The particle levels are also very high, for example PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns), the figure is more than 50 µg/m3. In fact, the 24-hour threshold (NAV) is 15 µg/m3 and the annual average NAV should only be 5 µg/m3.
Various efforts have already been made and are still ongoing to address air pollution in Jakarta and its surroundings. These efforts are being conducted after the levels of pollutants in the air have already become excessively high, even very high.
If anticipation had been done from a few months ago, the situation could certainly have been more controlled.
Impact on health
Currently, we are also facing the potential of another air pollution, which may have a much wider coverage and higher air pollution levels than the current situation in Jakarta and its surroundings.
This threat comes from forest and land fires (karhutla), which have now occurred in several regions of Indonesia. On September 4, for example, Kompas.id reported that forest and land fires occurred at at least 34 points in several areas.
The threat of forest and land fires has actually been warned by various world bodies, including in connection with the El Nino phenomenon which is currently sweeping the world, and is predicted to continue for some time to come.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) stated that there is approximately a 90 percent chance that El Niño will continue until the end of this year with a moderate degree or even higher.
The El Nino phenomenon, according to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), can increase world temperatures by around 0.2 degrees. This means that global temperatures are likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius, and this is the global warming limit.
This means that global temperatures are likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius, and this is the global warming limit.
WMO also stated that El Nino has the potential to cause severe droughts in Indonesia, Australia and parts of South Asia. Other data suggests that Indonesia and Australia will likely face longer summers and forest fires. And this has happened.
In addition to forest fires, El Nino also has direct impact on health. The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated in June 2023 that, in relation to the occurrence of El Nino, WHO is now preparing to face the possibility of increased transmission of virus-related diseases, such as dengue, zika, and chikungunya.
It has been revealed that changes in weather caused by El Nino will affect the lifestyle patterns of mosquitoes, and various types of mosquitoes play a crucial role in spreading numerous infectious diseases worldwide, as well as in our country.
From previous experience, forest fires that occur in Indonesia are not only a national problem, but also have international impacts as the smoke reaches neighboring countries, triggering diplomatic issues.
From the author's notes on involvement in the analysis of the large forest fires in 1997-1998, the author experienced firsthand the exposure to dense forest fire smoke, where the air pollution standard index (ISPU) - a type of air quality index now - at that time reached hundreds, with various far-reaching effects on health.
At that time, fires hit several areas in Kalimantan, Sumatra, Sulawesi and parts of eastern Indonesia. As a result, the smoke reached several neighboring ASEAN countries. From the Time report, fires caused by the El Nino phenomenon in October-November 1997 to 1998, at that time destroyed up to 8 million hectares of land.
The forest in Indonesia has always been an important asset for the world. The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) stated in June 2023 that Indonesia plays a crucial role in greenhouse gas emissions caused by land-use change and deforestation. Its contribution is said to reach 27 percent of the total global emissions. This means that if forest fires occur in Indonesia, the impact is not simply insignificant.
What we have to do
As the earth's temperature increases, the challenge of reducing the risk of forest fires is also increasingly difficult. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has issued an urgent call to the governments of all countries in the world, including Indonesia, to review their approach to anticipating and dealing with forest fires.
WMO also urges the governments of several countries, including Indonesia, to take adequate steps to mobilize preparations in anticipation of El Nino and prevent its negative impact on humans.
UNEP introduced a new approach called theFire Ready Formula, namely that 66 percent of forces and budget be used for planning, prevention, preparation and recovery; and another 34 percent for direct response activities if a fire has occurred.
UNEP also emphasizes that countries around the world need to prioritize ecosystem restoration and must be able to minimize the significant and severe forest fire risks.
In comprehensive integrated control of forest fires so far, there is a 5R concept, namely review and analysis, risk reduction, readiness, response, recovery.
In the first R, all data and experience from our previous forest fires must be collected from now on, and critical factors must be identified and mastered. For the second R, all efforts must be prepared and taken to reduce the negative impacts of forest fires that will occur. The third R is done by taking various steps, both in the community, field officials, and public policy makers. The fourth R regulates what should be done when a fire has occurred and causes adverse effects on humans and the environment. The last R serves as a guide for what should be done after forest fires can be overcome.
With the increasing temperature of the earth, the challenge to reduce the risk of forest fires becomes even more difficult.
Uncontrolled and extensive forest fires will certainly have a negative impact on the community, especially as the smoke can travel quite far. Forest fires will also damage biodiversity and ecosystems, and this poses a serious threat to Indonesia, which is rich in biodiversity.
At the same time, a large forest fire will also have an impact and worsen the Earth's weather changes, and will emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
"We do not want all of this to happen. Do not wait until it gets worse, like what happened with the Jakarta air pollution."
Tjandra Yoga Aditama Postgraduate Director at YARSI University, Professor at FKUI, Former Director of Infectious Diseases at WHO Southeast Asia