Global Forest Watch Fires, a platform monitoring forest and ground fires across the globe using data from the MODIS and VIIRS Satellites, showed that most of the fires taking place in Indonesia last week took place in non-concession areas.
In the three provinces in Sumatra — Jambi, Riau and South Sumatra — and two provinces in Kalimantan — Central and West Kalimantan — where most of the fires were registered last week, all data uploaded on the organization’s website showed that the largest source of fires were outside concession areas.
According to the data, Jambi, which had the highest number of fires in Sumatra during the September 8-15 period at 4,024 instances, 63 percent of the fires were outside concession areas. The figure for Riau which registered 2,768 fires last week was at 62 percent and for South Sumatra, which had 2,708 fires last week, the figure was at 77 percent.
Central Kalimantan which topped the number of fires in Indonesia last week with 6,913 fires had 82 percent taking place outside of concessions while West Kalimantan with 4,329 fires last week had 42 percent of them in non-concession areas.
The data also showed that most of the fires were in peatland. The percentage of fires in peatland were at 73 percent in Jambi, 74 percent in Riau, 38 percent in South Sumatra, 47 percent in West Kalimantan and 73 percent in Central Kalimantan.
Peatland, especially when drained for cultivation are prone to catching fires in the dry season. Seams of underground peat could also stay simmering with fires over long periods.
Two percent of the fires in South Sumatra were in concessions of palm oil companies which were members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), while none were found in the other provinces.
Fires in palm oil plantations accounted for 4 percent of the fires in Jambi, seven percent in Riau, 10 percent in South Sumatra, 39 percent in West Kalimantan and 14 percent in Central Kalimantan.
Fires in primary forests accounted for 40 percent of the fires in Jambi, 58 percent in Riau, 24 percent in South Sumatra, 52 percent in West Kalimantan and 31 percent in Central Kalimantan.
The forest and ground fires this year have begun to send thick smoke over to neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. In Riau, Jambi, West and Central Kalimantan, air quality has already exceeded dangerous levels and has already caused and extensive number of sufferers of respiratory ailments as well as traffic hazards.