October 28, 2019

Over half of elephant wildlife reserve burned

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - More than half of the Sumatran elephant inhabited Padang Sugihan wildlife reserve has been consumed by fires (as of Oct 27). The area burned totals in excess of 48 thousand hectares, equivalent to over 60% the size of Singapore. 

Padang Sugihan wildlife reserve, which covers more than 88 thousand hectares or equal to over 1.2 times the size of Singapore, stretches across South Sumatra’s OKI and Banyuasin regencies. In 2015, this wildlife reserve almost burned down entirely.

As of Oct 11, the area burned in this Sumatran elephant wildlife reserve exceeded 22 thousand hectares, or 30% the size of Singapore, but soared to the aforementioned over 48 thousand hectares (as of Oct 27).

Hopefully, the peat fires don't devour nearly the whole wildlife reserve this year, as happened in 2015, especially given the peat restoration efforts and investments that have been and are still being made in this conservation site.

The following USGS Landsat 8 images demonstrate the level of burned areas in the Padang Sugihan wildlife reserve in 2015, which are then contrasted with the extent of the burned areas this year (Oct 11 and Oct 27).

An APP landscape

The 2018 Asia Pulp and Paper (APP Sinarmas) sustainability reportsigned by the company's chairman Teguh Ganda Wijaya, stated that “We are committed to supporting the protection and restoration of one million hectares of natural forests in Indonesia.”

One of the landscapes included in APP’s one million hectare commitment is the Padang Sugihan wildlife reserve, almost half of which has been burned as of today. 

Surprisingly, the peat fires ravaging this wildlife reserve have also occurred in parallel with very nearby fires burning within an APP-controlled pulpwood concession (PT BMH).

The areas affected by peat fires in the PT BMH concession are continuing to spread, as shown by the LandViewer satellite images below.

It should be emphasized that the fire spots in the APP concession in question are mostly located where peat fires occurred in 2015, meaning that peat fires are largely taking place in the same locations in this concession.

Undeniable evidence shows that this APP-controlled company remains engaged in new peat ecosystem drainage practices, including in 2015’s burned areas.

The locations of the peat fires this October, which took place both inside and around the PT BMH concession, are very close to the areas where these new peat ecosystem drainage practices are being carried out in the APP concession.

In mid-November 2015, Indonesian authorities suspended PT BMH's permit due to the serious peat fires in its concession. Nonetheless, this year, this APP concession - one of the key suppliers to the OKI mill - has once again been hit by peat fires.