CIFOR Places a Quarter of Recent Indonesian Forest Fires in Industrial Plantations

cifor-icraf30 July 2013: The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) released a blog post on the sources of the June 2013 forest fires in Indonesia, noting that almost a quarter of them occurred in industrial plantations.

Together with the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Eyes on the Forest, CIFOR carried out a mapping exercise revealing that industrial oil palm and acacia plantations accounted for 21 per cent of the area burned in Sumatra. In contrast, only 4 per cent of the burned area occurred in natural forests during the June fires, which are estimated to have consumed more than 7 per cent of Sumatra's land area. However, the article notes that a majority of the burned area was covered by small or medium plantations prior to the fires.

The interactive online maps outlined in the article also show the presence of a number of industrial-scale plantations on areas that are not classified as plantations on government maps. Conversely, some areas noted as having concessions on government maps didn't show plantation cover on satellite images.

The article calls for further research into the causes of forest fires in industrial plantations, as it is unlikely that burns would be included as a management technique for such land. CIFOR and ICRAF are members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) [CIFOR Blog Post]