|Wooden houses are pictured as smoke-covered trees due to the forest fires near Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan province, Indonesia, September 29, 2019. (Photo by= REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced on Monday (Feb 22) that local authorities should prepare for potential forest fires later this year as hot spots were detected on Sumatra island.
Reuters said the island nation suffered some of the biggest tropical forest fires outside the Amazon and Congo in years, putting at risk endangered animals like orangutans and tigers and sending choking haze across the region. "Ninety-nine percent of forest fires are perpetrated by humans, whether intentional or out of negligence," Jokowi, as the president is widely known, said in a virtual meeting with officials. Farmers usually used fire as a cheap land clearing method, the president said, calling on local governments to get forest fire containment infrastructure ready.
Jokowi said Sumatra faces a rising risk of forest fires this month and warned that the Kalimantan region on Borneo island, including Sulawesi island, could also start seeing forest fires in May to July, with the peak expected in the August to September period. The president said the fires could cause considerable financial losses and "not to mention the damage to our ecology and ecosystem". State news agency Antara, citing a meteorology official, reported that the number of hotspots in Riau province on Sumatra island has jumped to 63 as of Monday, from nine a day earlier.