Shocking drone footage captured by Greenpeace Southeast Asia field researchers shows the massive underground peat fires burning across Indonesia.
The footage was shot around the edge of the Gunung Palung National Park, a major reservoir of biodiversity in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. It shows fire burning in the deep peat surrounding the National Park and in nearby palm oil concessions – the result of decades of illegal logging and deforestation for oil palm and pulp plantations. Gunung Palung National Park contains one of the world’s largest surviving populations of wild orangutans.
In July and August 2015, fires were widespread across Tesso Nilo National Park in Riau, Sumatra, an area of vital tiger habitat that has been devastated by illegal encroachment including palm oil development. Fires have also been reported around Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan.
“As governments prepare to meet in Paris to save the world from catastrophic warming, the earth in Indonesia is already on fire. Companies destroying forests and draining peat land have made Indonesia’s landscape into a huge carbon bomb, and the drought has given it a thousand fuses. The Indonesian government can no longer turn a blind eye to this destruction when half of Asia is living with the consequences,” said Bustar Maitar, Indonesian Forest Project Leader of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Indonesian forest fires pose a huge threat to people’s health across Southeast Asia, and are estimated to result in 110,000 deaths each year from respiratory and other ilnesses. They are also a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions that threaten the world’s climate.