Shedding light on haze

CIFOR engages with politicians and the media to tackle fire and haze in Indonesia

Fires are an annual event in Indonesia’s peatlands and forests. But deforestation and previous burning now make the landscape more fire prone than ever. Some 2.6 million hectares of forest are reported to have been burned in Borneo and Sumatra in 2015, and 43 million people on Sumatra and Kalimantan to have been exposed to toxic smoke. Severe air pollution has affected Singapore and Malaysia.

CIFOR has been deeply involved in researching the causes and consequences of the annual fires for several years. In 2015 we significantly stepped up our direct engagement with policy makers and media, as well as researchers and practitioners, at sub-national, national and international levels.

CIFOR Scientist Herry Purnomo used primetime television interviews and live dialogues on Indonesian channels Metro TV, Kompas TV, Net TV, TV One, as well as an article in The Conversation, to bring scientific rigor to the debate. CIFOR and its scientists were cited 1890 times in national and international media between August and December 2015, while CIFOR Director General Peter Holmgren was interviewed on BBC World Service’s NewsDay and Bloomberg TV’s Trending Business.

“What’s clear is that the economic impact of fires… is going to far outweigh the benefits of expanding agricultural land.”

Direct engagement with government ministers and policy makers was a focus of CIFOR’s work in 2015. Three days of workshops with the Minister of Environment and Forestry to present the results of CIFOR’s studies, and presentations to the Parliamentary Commission during October 2015 are the start of closer collaboration between CIFOR and the Indonesian government on the fires. In December 2015, CIFOR and University of Riau facilitated the development of Forum Negeri Bersih Jerebu (Haze-free Multistakeholder Forum) to collectively act to prevent fire and haze in the future.

Area of forest affected by fires in 2015 in Indonesia
Number of people exposed to toxic smoke in Sumatra & Kalimantan
potential audience of CIFOR primetime news interview on Metro TV
of Fire & haze blog site January–December 2015