BOS Mawas Team Conquers Massive Fire After 3-Day Battle

July 17, 2018 — Fires have again ravaged Central Kalimantan’s peat forests, the largest such burning since the devastating forest-fire disaster of 2015. Staff from Central Kalimantan’s Mawas Conservation Program were once again on the front line, facing intense heat in an attempt to gain control over the raging fires.

The first flames were spotted in a palm-oil plantation owned by PT. Kalimantan Lestari Mandiri (KLM) in Mantangai Sub-District, Kapuas Regency, Central Kalimantan, on Wednesday, July 11. The plantation is adjacent to the Mawas Conservation Program working area. Staff members quickly dispatched a fire patrol team to the scene, however, fire continued to creep toward one of our camps used in the program (Camp Release), and on Saturday, July 14, it got dangerously close.

In addition to the efforts made by our Mawas staff and technicians to extinguish the flames, we also received water-bombing support by helicopter from the Central Kalimantan Disaster Management Agency (BPBD).

After three challenging days, our team was finally able to neutralize the raging fire, which stopped just 300 meters away from Camp Release. Our post-fire assessment team determined that as much as 12,926 hectares of peat forest was burned over just a few days. This area is equivalent to about 13,000 soccer fields!

Burned peat forest

The Mawas team currently has 15 staff members on regular, daily rotation patrols to keep a lookout for spot fires. In the PT. KLM working area, thick smoke is still visible as of today (July 17).

The patrol team has reported seeing logs traveling downstream; an indication that illegal logging is taking place, and that the forest burning was a deliberate act. According to our Mawas Program Manager, Jhanson Regalino, canals in the area are presently shallow, forcing illegal loggers to find other ways to transport cut logs downstream. The loggers are known to secretly burn down rasau, a panadanus-like water plant found along the river banks, to widen the waterways.

We are very fortunate to have such dedicated and reliable staff members working on the BOS Mawas Conservation Program.

Text by: BOSF Communication Team

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