Riau, Kalimantan get helicopters to prevent land, forest fires

Smoke rising from a cleared forest land in Pelalawan Regency, Riau province in 2014.
Smoke rising from a cleared forest land in Pelalawan Regency, Riau province in 2014. PHOTO: AFP

PEKANBARU, RIAU (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) - Indonesia is set to dispatch helicopters to Riau and Kalimantan to help prevent and control land and forest fires.

Riau Environment and Forestry Agency head Yulwiriati Moesa said the Riau administration's request for the dispatch of helicopters to tackle land and forest fires had been approved by the central government.

"We are waiting for the arrival of the helicopters they've promised us. Helicopters will also be sent to Kalimantan," she said during a coordination meeting at the Riau gubernatorial office on Friday.

Yulwiriati hopes the helicopters arrive soon to aid in efforts to prevent land and forest fires in 12 regencies and municipalities.

"Forestry authorities have been handed over by regencies and cities to the provincial administration. That's why we have more duties now. The helicopters will ease our agency's task to prevent and control land and forest fires in locations difficult to reach via land routes," she said.

"I observed fire locations in the Bukit Betabuh protected forests in Kuantan Singingi regency several days ago. Firefighting teams faced difficulties in reaching fire spots in hilly areas. That's why we need helicopters."

Yulwiriati said she planned to set up an integrated patrol team to anticipate fires in forest areas. The development of ditches and canals in peatland will also continue, for which the Riau administration has allocated Rp 984 million (S$105,532).

"A media centre for hot spot monitoring will be set up to make it easier for us to detect and coordinate land and forest fire prevention," she said, adding that the monitoring of the adherence of companies in managing the environment would also be heightened.