Over the past few days, WRI has been tracking the location of forest and land fires on Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia. In this update, WRI examines the historical trends of forest fires in Sumatra. Read our previous analysis.
Fires continue to burn in Indonesia, spreading haze and suffering across the country and into Malaysia and Singapore. New research from the World Resources Institute reveals troubling trends about the blazes:
The current fires are not beyond the normal historic range for fires in the region, but that may change as the fires continue to burn heavily.
The recent fires are part of a longstanding, endemic crisis of forest fires and land clearing in Indonesia, and bold action is needed to prevent the crisis from escalating.
In this new analysis, WRI examines the historical trends of forest fires in Sumatra. Rapid analysis from WRI finds that the current forest fires observed in the Riau Province fit into a larger pattern of widespread forest and land fires. However, June 2013 is on track to be one of the worst months on record since 2001. Evaluation of recent wind patterns explains why the fires’ impact was felt so acutely in Singapore.
WRI explored these trends using two key data sets:
Historic fire alerts from NASA’s Active Fire Data, which shows fire alerts for the period of January 1, 2001 until the present.
Information on air dispersion to Singapore derived from NOAA’s HYSPLIT model, which takes into account meteorological data and can be used to estimate the most likely path that air traveled to reach a particular location at a given time.
Hari Jumat yang lalu, World Resources Institute (WRI) mempublikasikan data detil terkait lokasi peringatan titik api di Sumatera yang telah menyebabkan kabut asap yang sangat mengganggu dan berpotensi beracun di wilayah Indonesia, Singapura, dan Malaysia. Pemerintah ketiga negara, perusahaan-perusahaan, maupun media semua berlomba untuk mencari data untuk memahami penyebab dan lokasi sebaran titik api, serta memutuskan siapa yang seharusnya bertanggung jawab.
Selama beberapa hari terakhir ini, WRI telah melacak lokasi sebaran kebakaran hutan dan lahan yang terjadi di Sumatera, sebuah pulau di bagian barat Indonesia. Dalam perkembangan terbaru ini, WRI menganalisis tren historis kebakaran hutan yang terjadi di Sumatera. Baca analisa sebelumnya.
Analisis terbaru dari WRI menunjukkan adanya perkembangan sebaran peringatan titik api di Sumatera dari waktu ke waktu serta kaitannya dengan konsesi perusahaan. Dua data penting dalam analisis ini antara lain:
Penduduk di,Singapura, sebagian dari Indonesia dan Malaysia sedang mengalami kabut asap yang menganggu aktivitas sehari-hari akibat kebakaran hutan. Tingkat kualitas udara di Singapura telah jatuh ke tingkat terburuk yang pernah tercatat di pulau tersebut sedangkan bandara di Indonesia dan beberapa sekolah di Malaysia harus ditutup. Hampir semua kebakaran yang terjadi baru-baru ini (12-20 Juni) berasal dari titik api di Sumatera.
Media massa banyak memuat debat sengit mengenai lokasi, sebab, dan sifat kebakaran. Saat ini WRI telah menyusun beberapa data awal yang menunjukkan beberapa pola menarik. Data awal menunjukkan kebakaran yang terjadi relatif sedikit di kawasan lindung dan konsesi penebangan. Lebih dari setengah dari peringatan titik api yang ditemukan terjadi pada hutan tanaman industri dan perkebunan kelapa sawit. Meskipun membakar hutan bagi perusahaan di Indonesia merupakan perbuatan ilegal, perusahaan di masa lalu telah diketahui menggunakan api untuk pembukaan lahan. Hal ini akan menjadi penting untuk mengumpulkan informasi lebih lanjut mengenai lokasi kebakaran dan penyebabnya. Informasi ini dapat memberi implikasi penting bagi perusahaan-perusahaan dan badan pemerintah yang terlibat.
People in Indonesia, Singapore, and parts of Malaysia are currently suffering from debilitating levels of haze resulting from forest fires. Air quality levels in Singapore have deteriorated to the worst levels ever recorded on the island, while local airports in Indonesia and some schools in Malaysia have had to close. Almost all of the recent fires (June 12-20) have occurred in Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia.
While there’s been heated debate on the location, cause, and nature of the fires, WRI has compiled some initial data that reveals that there are some patterns. Relatively few fires have occurred in protected areas and selective logging concessions. Furthermore, half of the fires are burning on timber and oil palm plantations. Although it is illegal for companies in Indonesia to start forest or land fires, several companies have used fires for land clearing in the past. It will be important to gather more detailed information about the exact location of the fires and their causes, which could have important implications for the companies and government agencies involved.
A Look Inside the Forest Fire Data
WRI gathered information from NASA’s Active Fire Data, which uses satellite data to pinpoint the location of fires in near real time, together with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s concession maps for oil palm, logging concessions, and timber plantation licenses. We counted the number of NASA fire alerts in each concession in Indonesia and tabulated the results.
We know less about one of world's most pressing challenges today than we did 10 years ago. It's no secret that water - or the lack thereof - will be one of the defining issues of the 21st century. And yet, the United Nations World Water Report, in 2009, stated that when it comes to water, "less is known with each passing decade."
The World Economic Forum recently named the water supply crises as one of the top risks facing the planet - edging out issues like terrorism and systemic financial failure. Water risks permeate almost every aspect of global society. We got a taste last year with crops scorched by drought, shipping lanes threatened and energy plants shut down by low water levels, and coastlines devastated by flooding. Exacerbated by climate change and population growth, such crises will become more common and costly. Yet, the world largely lacks the data we need to monitor, understand, and respond to these water challenges. We are flying blind when it comes to global water issues.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first World Water Day, an international celebration designed to draw attention to the importance of freshwater resources. However, for a large and growing proportion of the world’s population, every day is a World Water Day. Difficult, complex water challenges including drought, groundwater depletion, pollution, and clean drinking water availability are growing in urgency and seriousness all around the world. Some even argue that we should boycott World Water Day – that our water problems are too serious to try and confine to a single day.
Although it’s true that we must keep water in mind during the other 364 days of the year, World Water Day can be useful. It helps raise awareness and serves as an annual reminder of the water problems we must collectively solve. Plus, picking a single theme – this year’s is cooperation – helps break down a very complex topic into more accessible, comprehensible pieces.
In keeping with the theme of helping make complex issues more approachable and understandable, WRI is marking this year’s World Water Day by launching the first in a new series of videos we’re calling “What’s the Big Idea?” These brief videos will feature WRI staff members explaining some of the complex, global challenges we are working to understand and solve. Our first “What’s the Big Idea?” video explains the concept of water risk and the array of challenges it poses. We also highlight a potential solution: WRI’s Aqueduct mapping tool, which helps companies, investors, governments, and others better understand and manage their water risks.
Our future is inextricably linked to forests. The social and economic benefits they provide are essential to realizing a sustainable century. A key litmus test of our commitment to this future is our response to a growing, global threat: illegal logging and the criminal timber trade.
Forests are a vital source of biodiversity and livelihoods. More than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, including 60 million indigenous people who are wholly dependent on forests. They are also natural carbon storage systems and key allies in combating climate change. They are vast, nature-based water utilities assisting in the storage and release of freshwater to lakes and river networks.
While deforestation is slowing in some places – most notably Brazil – it still remains far too high. The loss of forests is responsible for up to 17 percent of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions, 50 percent more than that from ships, aviation and land transport combined.
In January, Brian Richter, director of freshwater strategies at The Nature Conservancy, spelled out four water resolutions through a thought-provoking series of blog posts. One of those resolutions was to better understand and communicate the differences between water use and water consumption. This is a particularly important issue, as there has been a lot of discussion lately about water scarcity, water stress, and the risks associated with them.
So what do ”water use” and “water consumption” mean?
“Water use” describes the total amount of water withdrawn from its source to be used. Measures of water usage help evaluate the level of demand from industrial, agricultural, and domestic users. For example, a manufacturing plant might require 10,000 gallons of freshwater a day for cooling, running, or cleaning its equipment. Even if the plant returns 95 percent of that water to the watershed, the plant needs all 10,000 gallons to operate.
“Water consumption” is the portion of water use that is not returned to the original water source after being withdrawn. Consumption occurs when water is lost into the atmosphere through evaporation or incorporated into a product or plant (such as a corn stalk) and is no longer available for reuse. Water consumption is particularly relevant when analyzing water scarcity and the impact of human activities on water availability. For example, irrigated agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water use worldwide and almost 50 percent of that is lost, either evaporated into the atmosphere or transpired through plant leaves.
The Yellow River Basin (YRB) Study provides details of the data, sources, methodology, and maps for 14 water-related indicators across the Yellow River Basin in China. The YRB Study is primarily designed for research organizations for analysis and research purposes.
Stretching across six countries, the Congo Basin contains the second largest
contiguous tropical rain forest in the world and is home to a wealth of
biodiversity and wildlife populations. As global demand for the region’s forest
resources continues to grow, Central African nations recognize the importance
of managing these resources for the future.
WRI has been working with the Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Forest
Economy and a Congolese environmental group since 2004 to help that
country gather and digitize data on all its forest concessions, logging roads,
and protected areas for the first time. Forests cover 22 million hectares,
almost 65% of Congo’s territory. Forestry related revenue is second
only to that of petroleum to Congo’s economy.
Combined with training programs, the interactive forest atlas
produced through this collaboration helps the Congolese
government better monitor and manage its forest concession
titles, adjust taxable areas accordingly, and prioritize its limited
resources to combat illegal logging by dispatching field control
units to investigate pre-identified problem areas rather than
stumbling upon them.
Poverty maps not only identify the distribution of poor
populations, but pinpoint places where development lags and
highlight the location and condition of infrastructure and natural
resource assets that are critical to poverty reduction programs.
WRI has helped design and support poverty mapping efforts in
Kenya and Uganda. Kenya has used the maps to distribute critical
budget resources to its Constituency Development Fund (CDF)
which has allocated a total of approximately US$475 million for
development and poverty reduction efforts. Before the maps, funds
were based on population rather than on need. That has
changed, with a greater share of funds going to formerly
neglected rural areas.
Poverty maps were also used by the Kenya Water and
Sanitation Program, a five-year, US$65.3 million
effort to ensure resources reached poor communities
with low access to safe water and sanitation.
Cette carte montre l'affectation des terres dans le domaine forestier national au Cameroun au 31 Mai 2006. Elle donne des informations sur les differentes categories d'occupation du sol dans les domaines forestiers permanent et non permanent sous toile de fond du couvert forestier.
Cette montre l'affectation des terres dans le domaine forestier au Cameroun en 30 Août 2004. Elle donne des informations sur les differentes categories d'occupation du sol dans les domaines forestiers permanent et non permanent, ainsi que des informations sur les infrastructures routières.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s richest countries in
terms of natural wealth, yet among the poorest in terms of GDP. Forests blanket
60% of the country.
Following decades of mismanagement and two civil wars, the DRC is taking steps to
promote sustainable forest management. In 2005, with World Bank financing, the
government launched a process to review and convert old logging titles into forest
concessions aligned with the country’s new forest code.
Pierre Methot directed WRI's forestry work in Central Africa in 2009. He explains WRI’s role,
“Acting as the international independent observer, alongside our Belgian partner
AGRECO, we designed the review methodology, provided technical support, and
ensured compliance with the law. We insisted the process and results be made
publicly available and that local and indigenous populations be involved.”
Of 156 logging titles reviewed, only 65 were deemed legal for new concessions.
The remaining titles – 12 million hectares of rainforest – were set for cancellation.
“Protecting hectares is important,” says Methot, “but more importantly, this process
was transparent and involved multiple stakeholders – a first for the DRC. It sets the
groundwork for an accountable approach to forest and natural resource management.”
Russia’s forests are the largest in the world. Stretching from the Baltic to the Sea of
Japan, they encompass the last wild forests of Europe, make up the vast wilderness
of Siberia, and provide habitat for the highly endangered Siberian tiger.
In recent decades, road-building, logging, and wildfires have increasingly degraded
these ancient and previously largely intact forests. To protect some particularly
valuable forests, the Russian government used data provided by Global Forest Watch
Russia, a partnership between WRI and several Russian forest conservation groups.
Dr. Lars Laestadius leads WRI’s work in Russia. “The Russian government’s
attitude toward non-governmental organizations is very cautious, but, at the same
time, it realizes they have unique biodiversity data and maps on the country’s
forests. Using satellite imagery and field visits, the Global Forest Watch Russia
network mapped conservation values in Russia’s forests and made the results
These maps influenced the Russian government as it prioritized new areas for
protection and drew the boundaries of three new national parks. Similarly, the
forest-rich Republic of Karelia bordering Finland relied on Global Forest Watch
Russia maps and data for its new forest plan, which outlines thirteen new
protected areas and identifies future areas for protection.
Canada’s majestic boreal zone stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, covering 307 million hectares of forest and woodland and another 245 million hectares of natural landscape. One of the world’s most important ecosystems, it harbors biodiversity, provides livelihoods for local communities, stores large quantities of carbon, and produces paper and timber for use across the world. While much of it remains intact, industrial activity has been invading the old-growth forest.
In response, 21 forest products companies and nine leading environmental organizations, together with Canadian First Nations, signed an historic agreement in 2010 to protect a large swath of this forest and its species at risk, such as the Boreal caribou. The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement suspends new logging in 29 million hectares of forest land until 2013, and calls for the highest environmental standards of forest management within an area of 72 million hectares – twice the size of Germany. Additional forest will be added as the agreement broadens.
WRI and its Global Forest Watch network first put the issue of Canadian old-growth forest loss on the map – literally. We produced a ground-breaking set of maps documenting old-growth forest loss and areas of surviving intact forests. Global Forest Watch Canada’s maps were accepted as objective, accurate, and credible by activist groups, government officials, and companies. They supported advocacy efforts by explaining the global significance of the forests at stake. And they provided key data for the development of the Boreal Forest Agreement, part of an ongoing effort among environmental groups to fully protect 50 percent of Canada’s boreal forest from industrial development.
In recent centuries, half the world’s forests have been completely cleared or degraded. Yet this loss is also a great opportunity: More than 2 billion hectares of deforested and degraded land worldwide may have restoration potential.
Recognizing this prospect, in late 2011, the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) announced the first worldwide call for the restoration of deforested and degraded lands, with a target of restoring 150 million hectares by 2020. WRI is a member of the GPFLR and played a key role in building support for this target – the Bonn Challenge – by working with partners to quantify the restoration potential of the world’s forest landscapes. This work enabled a measurable restoration target to be set.
Restoring Forests, Improving Human Well-being
Forests provide hundreds of millions of people with food, fuel, fiber, and livelihoods. They also store carbon, conserve biodiversity, prevent soil erosion, improve water supply, and promote climate resilience. While international efforts to maintain forest benefits have largely focused on preventing deforestation, momentum is growing for complementary efforts to restore deforested and degraded areas.
In September 2011, a Ministerial Roundtable took place in Bonn, Germany, hosted by the German Government and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on behalf of the GPFLR. This event—in which ministers, private sector CEOs, and high-level representatives of international and non-governmental organizations participated—launched the Bonn Challenge.
The GPFLR is encouraging and assisting countries and companies to restore health and productivity to deforested and degraded landscapes, not just by planting trees, but through creating a mosaic of land uses that benefit both people and nature. A restored landscape can include sustainable agriculture, protected reserves, ecological corridors, agro-forestry systems, and riverside plantings that counter erosion.
In its first year, the challenge inspired pledges by the United States, the Mata Atlântica Restoration Pact of Brazil, and Rwanda to restore a combined 18 million hectares of land. When the goal of 150 million hectares (370 million acres) is reached, an area the size of Mongolia will be underway toward restoration.
Making a Difference: WRI’s Role
WRI played a leading role in the development of the first-ever detailed, global map of forest landscape restoration opportunities, working together with South Dakota State University and IUCN on behalf of the GPFLR. This assessment located more than 2 billion hectares of land with restoration potential worldwide. This map paved the way for the Bonn Challenge by answering three important questions that countries were asking:
“Where might restoration opportunities be located?” (thereby making restoration spatially explicit);
“Who could do restoration?” (thereby showing that most countries can play a role in and benefit from the Bonn Challenge); and
“How much restoration might be possible?” (thereby providing the quantitative basis for the 150 million hectare target).
WRI’s contribution was made possible by financial support from the governments of Germany, United Kingdom, and United States, and from the Program on Forests (PROFOR) and IUCN.
Supply chains are a major contributor to the environmental footprint of multinational companies, particularly in their use of water. By working with suppliers to decrease water-related risk, large companies can help reduce pressure on the world’s over-stretched water resources.
In July 2012, global food service retailer McDonald’s added a question to the Environmental Scorecard it distributes to its top suppliers. The addition requested that suppliers determine the water stress associated with their facilities’ locations. WRI played a pivotal role in this landmark initiative, providing the Aqueduct water risk mapping tool, which McDonald’s asked its suppliers to use when calculating their water footprints.
Measuring Water Risks
McDonald’s distributes an annual Environmental Scorecard Questionnaire to its top suppliers. The suppliers asked to respond to the water risk question include providers of beef, poultry, pork, potatoes, bakery products, and toys. Incorporating this question into the Environmental Scorecard was an important step in advancing McDonald’s dialogue with its suppliers beyond efficiency to include water risk and overall water stewardship.
The 2012 Environmental Scorecard directed suppliers to, “Use the WRI Aqueduct Tool to determine the water stress of the facility’s location and provide the water stress [level] of the facility’s location.” McDonald’s also urged its top suppliers to use the data they acquire from using Aqueduct to update their environmental management processes to take water risk into account. By the end of September 2012, all 353 of the facilities asked to complete the Aqueduct water risk assessment had done so.
This McDonald’s initiative provides an important precedent for evaluating water-related risk among agricultural producers, who account for 70 percent of water use worldwide.
Making Change Happen: WRI’s Role
WRI’s Aqueduct tool, developed by our Markets & Enterprise Program, allows companies and other organizations to access information on water risks in a given region or area. Our global database uses 12 indicators of water quantity, water quality, and regulatory and reputational issues to calculate water risk around the world.
The practical, straightforward, user-friendly nature of our Aqueduct tool made it possible for McDonald’s to begin assessing water risk across its vast global supply chain. Suppliers survey the data available for their facility’s location, and then choose from a drop-down option that indicates whether overall water risk is low, medium, or high. The Coca-Cola Company, a supporter of the Aqueduct project, vouched for the usefulness and credibility of the maps to McDonald’s, one of its largest customers.
McDonald’s high profile endorsement of the Aqueduct tool and data will help WRI scale our work with companies to address water scarcity challenges worldwide.