Thursday, September 28, 2023

Gov't to Use Artificial Rains to Prevent Peat Wildfires

Diana Mariska
April 28, 2020 | 7:44 pm
President Joko Widodo inspects a burning forest in Pekanbaru, Riau, last year. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)
President Joko Widodo inspects a burning forest in Pekanbaru, Riau, last year. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

Jakarta. The Environment and Forestry Ministry said it will use artificial rains to extinguish escalating forest and land fires in Sumatran peatlands in May.

Indonesia experienced its worst forest fires last year, with close to 152,000 spots ablaze across forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan – the country's key palm oil-producing regions.

The fires destroyed more than 857,000 hectares of forest and peatland, 13 times the size of Jakarta, while the smoke and haze from the fires caused acute respiratory illnesses for more than a million people. 

Deputy Environment and Forestry Minister Alue Dohong said the government will use artificial rain to prevent fires from spreading out further this year, a time when the country has to deal with another disaster attacking people's respiratory system: the Covid-19 pandemic.


"We can prevent forest and peatland fires using weather modification to wet the peat and fill up water reservoirs and canals. We're also going to do regular patrols to make sure wells and canals have water in them," Alue said in a statement on Tuesday.

The ministry's secretary-general, Bambang Hendroyono, said due to its high cost, weather modification will only be used in areas most prone to fires. 

"The cost for TMC [weather modification technology] is quite high, we're only going to use it in areas where there have been forest and peatland fires in the past five years," Bambang said.

The director-general of climate change control at the ministry, Ruandha Agung, said the ministry's fire brigade, the Manggala Agni, will be deployed to prevent fires, especially in Sumatra.

"So far this year we've used nine helicopters for air patrol and waterbombing in Riau. We've dropped more than 11 million liters of water bombs. We've also used up 27 batches of TMC using more than 21 tons of salt," Ruandha said.

The ministry is planning its next weather modification for the beginning of May in coordination with the Technology Assessment and Application Agency (BPPT), the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) and the Indonesian Military.

The BMKG forecast that by then some clouds would be still available for rain seedling – a method of weather modification by "spraying" aerosols onto clouds to create rain. 

The BMKG said rainfall would start to decline just before June.

Aside from using weather modification, the ministry is also intensifying other efforts to prevent fires in collaboration with regional governments and state agencies.

The ministry has sent circulars to 15 governors and 31 mayors and district heads, urging them to start the land-wetting process.

It has also distributed a peatland map that has been overlaid with existing and possible fire spots.

Tags: Keywords:


News 4 hours ago

Nagorno-Karabakh Gov't to Dissolve Itself by January 2024

The move comes after Azerbaijan carried out a lightning offensive to reclaim full control over its breakaway region.
Special Updates 19 hours ago

Annual Culinary Fest 'Pasar Senggol' Returns to Summarecon Mall Bekasi

With 114 tenants at 99 booths, four food trucks, and 11 food carts, visitors have thousands of menu choices to explore.
News 19 hours ago

Anies and Muhaimin Visit Rizieq

The presidential candidate and his running mate attended the wedding of Rizieq's daughter in Petamburan.
News Sep 27, 2023 | 5:53 pm

Prabowo in 'Final Phase' of Selecting Running Mate

Among the three possible candidates for the presidential race, Anies Baswedan was the first to unveil his running mate.
Lifestyle Sep 27, 2023 | 5:01 pm

Female Officers Prohibited from Dyeing Hair Under New Police Directive

The directive also specifies that female officers are not allowed to adopt a crew-cut hairstyle like their male counterparts.