Environmental Detection from Satellite and airborne planes and helicopter; 6-1995
Forest Fires in Kalteng 1997
The fires' impacts are much greater on deep deposits of peat, accumulated over the last 5,000 - 10,000 years. Burning this globally significant store of carbon has far more severe environmental impacts than simply burning surface vegetation. It adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and releases particulate matter and sulphur and nitrous oxides, threatening human health.
The best long-term economic use for peat-land will usually be some form of forestry. Decisions on large-scale land clearing have often been made without full appreciation of the values of the forest land, particularly to local communities who derive many important products from the forest.
We must learn lessons from the 1997 fires. Fires in 1983, 1991 and 1994 attracted international attention but many measures were palliative and did not address root causes. Research can analyse the 1997 fires and what motivated people and companies to set the fires - when, where and how - to better understand how to ensure such fires are not inevitable every time an El Niño drought occurs.
Picture: Environmental Helicopter