Effects of Droughts and Forest Fires on Dipterocarp Forest in East Kalimantan

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Within two decades, a huge land area of Indonesia was burned twice by the largest forest fires in the world, in 1982–83 and 1997–98, after prolonged dry spells caused by strong El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. The changes of monthly rainfall were very similar in both 1982–83 and 1997–98. Much lower than normal rainfall continued for about 11 months from June to April, except for a 2-month interruption in November and December when the rainfall was average Figure 2.1. The damages from both fires were especially serious in Borneo. It is believed the land area affected by the 1982–83 fires reached 5 million ha in Borneo and 3.6 million ha in the state of East Kalimantan alone (Lennertz and Panzer 1984, Goldammer and Seibert 1990). The extent and the visible impacts of these fires have been described by many studies (Wirawan 1984, Lennertz and Panzer 1984, Malingreau et al. 1985, Tagawa et al. 1988).