Indonesia and Singapore have been bracing themselves in recent weeks as warnings that this year's dry season would likely herald a severe spike in forest fires in Sumatra, with toxic haze across the region.
Peristiwa kebakaran hutan dan lahan gambut yang baru-baru ini terjadi di Indonesia meninggalkan jejak kerusakan yang sangat dahsyat. Kebakaran hutan, yang mencapai puncak pada bulan Maret serupa dengan krisis kabut asap Juni 2013, menghasilkan kabut asap berbahaya dalam jumlah yang sangat besar. Hal ini mengakibatkan ditutupnya ratusan sekolah dan beberapa bandara lokal, serta mungkin telah mengakibatkan gangguan pernapasan kepada lebih dari 50.000 orang.
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Di awal Maret 2014, kebakaran hutan dan lahan gambut di provinsi Riau, Sumatera, Indonesia, melonjak hingga titik yang tidak pernah ditemukan sejak krisis kabut asap Asia Tenggara pada Juni 2013. Hampir 50.000 orang mengalami masalah pernapasan akibat kabut asap tersebut, menurut Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Indonesia. Citra-citra satelit dengan cukup dramatis menggambarkan banyaknya asap polutan yang dilepaskan ke atmosfer, yang juga berkontribusi kepada perubahan iklim.
Clearing land for timber and agriculture is likely to blame for Indonesia's latest bout of fires. According to data from Global Forest Watch—a new online system that tracks tree cover change, fires, and other information in near-real time—roughly half of these fires are burning on land managed by oil palm, timber, and logging companies—despite the fact that using fire to clear land is illegal in Indonesia.