The launch of Fire Prevention Masterplan in Ketapang District

The launch of Fire Prevention Masterplan in Ketapang District

Indonesia - 24 March, 2023

The government of Ketapang District launched a Masterplan for Fire Prevention in a ceremony held in the District Office Hall on 9 March 2023. The masterplan was developed for two peatland hydrological units in the southern part of the district, called Pawan-Kepulu-Pesaguan. This area became the focus of the masterplan due to the big fires in 2015 and 2019. The Deputy of the District Regent, Farhan, stated that the masterplan is a direction and planning for the implementation of fire prevention in the landscape so that all related efforts can be done effectively. “It’s a guidance that needs to be implemented collaboratively with all relevant stakeholders and not just to be left as an idle document without follow-up actions,” he said. He reminded the sub-district head, who was present at the launching, to not only put the document on the shelves, but to conduct follow-up implementation in the respective areas.

Read the Masterplan for Preventing Forest and Land Fires Based on Peat Management in the Peat Hydrological Unit (KHG) of Pawan River-Kepulu River and Kepulu River-Pesaguan River, Ketapang Regency, West Kalimantan Province here (in bahasa Indonesia)

The idea of developing a masterplan to address fires in the district started in 2020. After long discussions across stakeholders, they agreed that fire prevention measures must be the focus instead of fire suppression. According to Donatus Rantan, Head of the Musltistakeholder Forum of Natural Resources of Ketapang District (SEKBER PSDA), fires in 2015 and 2019 caused a huge loss and neither side wants to be blamed. “We need to seek efforts to avoid any chaos,” he said. The involvement of various stakeholders to prevent fires is important especially with the findings that most fire cases took place due to human activities.
Tropenbos Indonesia provided the required technical assistance to develop the masterplan. For that purpose, an expert team was formed consisting of experts with a wide range of expertise such as landscape approach, natural resource governance, peat hydrology, and spatial analysis. TI team works collaboratively with Bappeda (District Development Planning Agency) and SEKBER PSDA as the official authors of the masterplan under Regent's decree.

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Head of Bappeda, Harto, mentioned that the masterplan is very important for Ketapang since the number of fire hotspots continued to increase by years. In 2015 there were 80 fire points, in 2018 there were 86 fire points, and in 2019 it was found that the fire hotspots reached 155. As an effect, the massive fires and thick haze disturbed the communities’ activities. “Based on the data, most fire hotspots were found in the peatland areas of Pawan-Kepulu-Pesaguan,” he said. With such a number and the evidence that human activities were the major causes of fires, strategic planning is a must. “A formulation of planning is important to avoid forest and land fires. In the RPJMD (the district mid-term development plan), it is connected to the life-quality indices of water, air and land cover, and it has become the commitment of the government,” he added. As the first district with this kind of document, he stated that they would not stop here but would continue with the Regent Regulation and District Action Plan, which are going to be drafted soon.

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See also: Milestones and Progress in Multistakeholder Processes for Fire Prevention Strategies in Ketapang District

Although this document focuses on Pawan Kepulu Pesaguan hydrological units, it should become a model for implementation in other areas. Harto said that the efforts should be continued for other areas that are based on the contexts and situations. As a document, the masterplan aims to become the foundation for planning to prevent forest and peatland fires in Pawan-Kepulu-Pesaguan hydrological units, and provides recommendation of strategies based on a number of peatland and fire characteristics and land units.

As the province with the fourth largest peatland areas in Indonesia, West Kalimantan province has 1.7 million ha peatland of which 253.000 ha is found in Ketapang. Unfortunately, most of the peatlands in Ketapang have been degraded and that easily triggers fires during long dry season. The fire prevention masterplan is important to support the ratification of the Paris Agreement on FOLU net sink 2030, which has four main strategies: (i) avoid deforestation, (ii) sustainable forest management and conservation, (iii) protection and restoration of peatlands, (iv) the increase of carbon uptake (sink).

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Picture: Peatland area in Sungai Besar Village

At the national level, there are three (3) main approaches to restore peatlands introduced by the National Mangrove and Peatland Restoration Agency (BRGM): (i) rewetting, (ii) revegetation, and (iii) revitalization. These approaches are adopted in the masterplan. The objective of rewetting is to increase water level so that the land will not be easily burnt. Subsequently, the rewetted peatlands should be replanted with peatswamp species also known as ‘paludiculture’ or by developing peatland adaptive agriculture and plantations. For areas already occupied by communities, the restoration should support local economic improvement (revitalization) so that they will have the power and energy to prevent from fires.

Meanwhile, a peatland monitoring strategy is also mandated by the masterplan. A community-based peatland monitoring model has been developed, called “Pemantauan Gambut” and is being exercised in Pawan-Kepulu-Pesaguan landscape. The team consists of representative members from four villages in the landscape: Sungai Pelang, Sungai Besar, Sungai Bakau, and Pematang Gadung. They conduct the fire prevention activities through intensive monitoring on peatland ground water level, land use change which may increase susceptibility to fire, and help improve community awareness to avoid activities which can trigger forest and land fires, as well as on the importance of ‘no-burning’ agricultural activities. With such close prevention monitoring activity, it is expected that even a spark of fire will get no chance to appear. **

Watch the video (in Bahasa Indonesia)