In 5 years, Indonesian fires destroyed an area the size of Denmark

Jakarta, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- Fires that occur every year in Indonesia have ravaged more than 4.4 million hectares of land between 2015 and 2019, an area larger than the size of Denmark, Greenpeace said in a report on Thursday.

The environmental nonprofit denounced errors made by the Indonesian government in protecting forests and wetlands during the fire season, which usually occurs between July and October.

Greenpeace claims that 30 percent of the razed areas, or 1.3 million hectares, occurred on pulpwood and palm oil concessions.

“Palm oil and pulp multinationals have practically set the rules in recent decades. Year after year they have broken the law by torching forests, yet they evade justice and go unpunished,” Kiki Taufik, global head of Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaign, said.

The report, titled ‘Burning Issues: Five Years of Fire,’ also touches upon the legislative reform recently adopted by the Indonesian parliament which relaxes several environmental protections with the aim of attracting foreign private investment.

“[President Joko Widodo]’s Omnibus Law, recently passed in total absence of public consultation but written with the Industry’s pen, is the reflection of an opaque system that threatens to destroy much of Indonesia’s remaining forests and peatlands and displace indigenous communities,” Taufik said.

Since the Indonesian legislature passed the comprehensive law reform on Oct. 5, thousands of Indonesians have taken to the streets to protest against the measures that critics say will curtail workers’ rights and damage the environment.

The demonstrations have also turned into clashes with authorities in some places.

“Measures like the pro-business ‘Omnibus law’ that ignores people and sees nature as a bottomless resource to be extracted for short-term profit can only have a catastrophic outcome for human health, human rights and the climate,” the Greenpeace worker said.

Taufik urged President Widodo to exercise his veto over the bill to put an end to the “madness.”

“If he fails to act, we are facing a future of more major fires and an unprecedented environmental, health and climate crisis that will be felt not just in Indonesia, but around the world,” Taufik added. EFE-EPA


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