Indonesia to test M'sian peatland compaction method to prevent forest fires

02 Apr 2016 / 15:44 H.

    JAKARTA: The Indonesian government will test a Malaysian peatland management method, called compaction, in a bid to prevent annual land and forest fires in peatland areas.

    A local English newspaper, The Jakarta Post today quoted an Environment and Forestry Ministry official as saying that it would test the method, introduced by Lulie Meiling, the director of the Tropical Peat Research Laboratory in Sarawak, Malaysia.

    "We will try the method in West Kalimantan, North Sumatra, Riau and Palembang," said the ministry's Director of Forestry Product Research and Development Centre, Dwi Sudharto, as quoted by the newspaper.

    Dwi said the government was studying the effectiveness and compatibility of the method in Indonesia and would only try the method in peatland that was not too vast.

    According to Lulie, the method was ideal for Indonesia, which had peatland with high porosity, because it made the soil more solid, preventing it from losing water quickly and making it much more resistant to fire.
    She said peatland in Sarawak rarely caught fire, unlike in Indonesia, because of the compaction method, which had been used for a decade to boost the production of palm oil plantations in peatland areas in Sarawak.

    The Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) is also considering using the land compaction method.

    In October 2015, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak had met Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and raised the problem of haze from Indonesia which had threatened the interests of the people of Malaysia and disrupted the economic, social and educational activities.

    During bilateral discussions, Najib said, Malaysia had stated its preparedness to boost cooperation and offer Malaysian experts and methods to overcome forest fires.

    Last year, four months of forest fires in Indonesia resulted in serious haze in Malaysia and other neighbouring countries, with Air Pollutant Index readings at very unhealthy levels and forcing the government to close schools in several states in a move to safeguard the health of students. — Bernama

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