Understanding drivers of fire

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The increasing extent and frequency of fires globally requires nuanced understanding of the drivers. These are often poorly understood in spatially expansive and temporally dynamic landscapes.  Our study developed a spatially- and temporally-explicit typology of fire occurrences in Kalimantan (531,000 km2), Indonesia, between 2002 and 2017. We examined how the occurrence of fire varies across climate, land type, and village livelihoods and identified the priority areas and the priority sectors for fire mitigation measures.

The analysis revealed that across Kalimantan fires are most common when industrial plantation concessions are present, particularly in intact forests and degraded lands on mineral soil. However, in degraded peatland, where fire is most intense during dry years, fire occurrence rates are high regardless of village livelihood sectors. Our study identified two key priorities for fire mitigation in Kalimantan: degraded peatland as the priority area and industrial plantations (oil palm and timber) as the priority sector. It underlines the importance of protecting existing peat forests from deforestation and degradation, and from conversion to large-scale agriculture.

The analysis framework utilised publicly available global spatio-temporal datasets and government census data. This approach has great potential to be replicated to other geographies facing similarly complex and dynamically driven vegetation fires.

For more information read the study:

Santika, T., Budiharta, S., Law, E.A., Dennis, R.A., Dohong, A., Struebig, M.J., Gunawan, H., Meijaard, E. and Wilson, K.A. (In press, published online 24.07.2020). Interannual climate variation, land type and village livelihood effects on fires in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Global Environmental Change. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102129