Fire, People and Pixels: Linking Social Science and Remote Sensing to Understand Underlying Causes and Impacts of Fires in Indonesia

Abstract

This study in the wake of 1990s fire catastrophes identifies and analyzes underlying causes of vegetation fires in eight locations across Borneo and Sumatra. Multidisciplinary and multiscale analysis integrates geospatial technologies with varied social research approaches and participatory mapping. It helps fill a void of site-specific evidence on diverse underlying causes of the Indonesian fires, despite emerging consensus on macrolevel causes and impacts, and policy debates on preventing future fire disasters. Our most important findings include confirmation of multiple direct and underlying fire causes at each of the eight locations, no single dominant fire cause at any site, and wide differences in fire causes among sites. Conclusions emphasize the importance of location specific studies within a regional analytical context. Our “hybrid” research methods demonstrate the explanatory power of integrating geospatial and social analysis techniques, and the benefits of analyzing fire causes and impacts at multiple scales in varied locations across diverse regions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Achard, F., Eva, H. D., Stibig, H.-J., Mayaux, P., Gallego, J., Richards, T., and Malingreau, J.-P. (2002). Determination of deforestation rates of the world’s humid tropical forests. Science 297:999–1002.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Anon. (1997). Yearly forest fires cause Rp. 240 trillion in losses. Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Indonesia, 29 July 1997.

  3. Applegate, G. B. A., Chokkalingam, U., and Suyanto, S. (2001). The underlying causes and impacts of fires in South-east Asia, Final Report, CIFOR, ICRAF, USAID, and US Forest Service, Bogor, Indonesia.

  4. Barber, C. V., Schweithelm, J., (2000) Trial by fire. Forest fires and forestry policy in Indonesia’s era of crisis and reform.World Resources Institute (WRI), Forest Frontiers Initiative, in collaboration with WWF-Indonesia and Telapak Indonesia Foundation. Washington DC.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Barr, C. M., Wollenberg, E., Limberg, G., Anau, N., Ramses, I., Sudana, I. M., Moeliono, M., and Djogo, T. (2001). The Impacts of Decentralisation on Forests and Forest-Dependent Communities in Malinau District, East Kalimantan. CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/docs/_ref/publications/books.htm

  6. Bennett, C. P. A. (2002). Responsibility, accountability and national unity in village governance. In Colfer, C.J.P., and Resosudarmo, I.A.P (eds.), Which Way Forward? People, Forest and Policy Making in Indonesia, Resources for the Future, Washington DC, pp. 60–80.

  7. Boehm, H., -D.V., and Siegert, F. (2001). Land Use Change and (II)-Legal Logging in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Asian Wetland Symposium, Penang, Malaysia.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bompard, J. M., and Guizol, P. (1999). Land management in the province of South Sumatra, Indonesia. Fanning the flames: The institutional causes of vegetation fires. Forest Fire Prevention and Control Project, European Commission, Jakarta, Indonesia.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bowen, M. R., Bompard, J. M., Anderson, I. P., Guizol, P., and Guyon, A. (2000). Anthropogenic fires in Indonesia: A view from Sumatra. In P. Eaton, and M. Radojevic (eds.), Forest Fires and Regional Haze in Southeast Asia, Nova Science, New York, pp. 41–66

    Google Scholar 

  10. Brondizio, E., Moran, E., Mausel, P., and Wu, Y. (1994). Land-use change in the Amazon estuary: Patterns of Caboclo settlement and landscape management. Human Ecology 22:249–278.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Byron, N. (2004). Managing smoke: Bridging the gap between policy and research or What to do while it is raining outside. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 104(1):57–62.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Casson, A. (2001a). Decentralisation of Policies Affecting Forests and Estate Crops in Kutai Barat District, East Kalimantan. CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/docs/_ref/publications/books.htm

  13. Casson, A. (2001b). Decentralisation of Policy Making and Administration of Policies Affecting Forests and Estate Crops in Kotawaringin Timur District, Central Kalimantan. CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/docs/_ref/publications/books.htm

  14. Cochrane, M. A., Alencar, A., Schulze, M. D., Souza, C. M., Nepstad, D. C., Lefebvre, P., and Davidson, E. A. (1999). Positive feedbacks in the fire dynamic of closed canopy tropical forests. Science 284:1834–1836.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Colfer, C., Dennis, R. A., and Applegate, G. (2000). The underlying causes and impacts of fires in South-east Asia. Site 8. Long Segar, East Kalimantan Province, Indonesia. CIFOR, ICRAF, USFS, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/fire-project/index.htm

  16. Colfer, C. J. P., and Dudley, R. G. (1993). Shifting cultivators of Indonesia: Marauders or managers of the forest? FAO Community Forestry Case Study No. 6, FAO, Rome, Italy.

  17. Congalton, R. G. (1991). A Review of assessing the accuracy of classifications of remotely sensed data. Remote Sensing of Environment 37:35–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Dennis, R. A., and Colfer, C. J. P. (In press). Measuring the impacts of land cover/land use change and fire in the lowland forests of East Kalimantan 1983–2000. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography.

  19. Dennis, R. A., and Kurniawan, I. (2000). Tropical forest cover monitoring in Indonesia. TREES II Project of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

  20. Dennis, R A., Erman, A., Kurniawan, I., Stolle, F., and Applegate, G. (2000a). The underlying causes and impacts of fires in South-east Asia. Site 3. Danau Sentarum, West Kalimantan Province, Indonesia. CIFOR, ICRAF and USFS, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/fire-project/index.htm

  21. Dennis, R. A., Ruchiat, Y., Permana, R. P., Suyanto, S., Kurniawan, I., Maus, P., Stolle, F., and Applegate, G. (2000b). The underlying causes and impacts of fires in South-east Asia. Site 4. Musi Banyu Asin, South Sumatra Province, Indonesia. CIFOR, ICRAF and USFS, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/fire-project/index.htm.

  22. Dennis, R. A., Colfer, C. J. P., and Puntodewo, A. (2001). Forest cover change analysis as a proxy: Sustainability assessment using remote sensing and GIS in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. In Colfer, C.J.P, and Byron, Y. (eds.), People managing forests: The Link between Human Well-Being and Sustainability. Resources for the Future (RFF), Washington, DC.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Down to Earth. (2001). Indonesia’s Transmigration Programme—An Update, International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia, London.

  24. Down to Earth. (2002). Forest, People and Rights, International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia, London.

  25. Fairhead, J., and Leach, M. (1996). Misreading the African Landscape: Society and Ecology in a Forest-Savanna Mosaic, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

    Google Scholar 

  26. FWI/GFW (2002). The State of the Forest: Indonesia, Forest Watch Indonesia, Global Forest Watch, Bogor, Indonesia, Washington DC.

  27. Geist, H. J., and Lambin, E. F. (2002). Proximate causes and underlying driving forces of tropical deforestation. Bioscience 52: 143–150.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Gónner, C. (1999). Causes and effects of forest fires: A case study from a Sub-District in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, ICRAF methodology workshop: Environmental Services and Land Use Change: Bridging the Gap between Policy and Research in Southeast Asia, Mai, Thailand, 31 May–2 June 2000, Chiang.

  29. Guyon, A., and Simorangkir, D. (2002). The economics of fire use in agriculture and forestry—A preliminary review for Indonesia, Project FireFight South East Asia, Bogor, Indonesia.

  30. Hafild, E. (1998). Kebakaran Hutan, Puncak Kesemrawutan Manajemen Hutan Indonesia. Tanah Air.

  31. Hartanto, H., Lorenzo, M. C., Valmores, C., Arda-Minas, L., Burton, E. M., and Prabhu, R. (2003). Learning Together: Responding to change and complexity to improve community forests in the Philippines, CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Harwell, E. (2000). Remote sensibilities: Discourses of technology and the making of Indonesia’s natural disaster, 1997–98. Development and Change 31:307–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Hoare, P. (2004). A process for community and government cooperation to reduce the forest fire and smoke problem in Thailand. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 104(1):35–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Hoffmann, A. A., Hinrichs, A., and Siegert, F. (1999). Fire damage in East Kalimantan in 1997/98 related to land use and vegetation classes: Satellite radar inventory results and proposal for further actions, MOFEC, GTZ and KfW, Samarinda, East Kalimantan.

  35. Holmes, D. (2000). Deforestation in Indonesia; A review of the situation in 1999, Draft report for the World Bank, Jakarta, Indonesia.

  36. Jepson, P., Momberg, F., and van Noord, H. (1998). Trade in reptiles from the middle Mahakam Lake area, East Kalimantan Indonesia with evidence of a causal link to forest fires associated with the 1997/98 El Nino phenomena, World Wide Fund for Nature/ (WWF)—Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Jiang, H. (2003). Stories Remote Sensing Images Can Tell: Integrating Remote Sensing Analysis With Ethnographic Research in the Study of Cultural Landscapes. Human Ecology 31:215–232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Lachowski, H., and Maus, P. (1995). Guidelines for the Use of Digital Imagery for Vegetation Mapping. USDA Forest Service, Washington DC.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Laris, P. (2002). Burning the Seasonal Mosaic: Preventative Burning Strategies in the Wooded Savanna of Southern Mali. Human Ecology 30:155–186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Legg, C. A., and Laumonier, Y. (1999). Fires in Indonesia, 1997: A Remote Sensing Perspective. Ambio 28:479–485.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Liew, S. C., Lim, O. K., Kwoh, L. K., and Lim, H. (1998). A study of the 1997 forest fires in South East Asia using SPOT quicklook mosaics, 1998 International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, 6–10 July 1998, Seattle, USA.

  42. Luttrell, C. (1994). Forest burning in Danau Sentarum. Preliminary report for AWB/PHPA. UK-Indonesia Tropical Forest Management project, Sub-project 5 Conservation, Bogor, Indonesia.

  43. Malingreau, J. P., Stephens, G., and Fellows, L. (1985). Remote sensing of forest fires: Kalimantan and North Borneo in 1982–83. Ambio 14: 314–321.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Mayer, J., and Suratmoko, B. (2000). Fire and Landscape in Sanggau, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. CIFOR, ICRAF, PPSDAK—Pancur Kasih, USFS, Bogor, Indonesia.

  45. Mayer, J., Suratmoko, B., Dennis, R. A., Stolle, F., Kurniawan, I., Maus, P., and Applegate, G. (2000). The underlying causes and impacts of fires in South-east Asia. Site 5. Sanggau, West Kalimantan Province, Indonesia. CIFOR, ICRAF and USFS, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/fire-project/index.htm

  46. Menz, K., Magcale-Macandog, D., and Rusastra, I. W. (eds.) (1998). Improving smallholder farming systems in Imperata areas of Southeast Asia: Alternatives to shifting cultivation. ACIAR Monograph No. 52. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra, Australia.

  47. Mertens, B., Sunderlin, W. D., Ndoye, O., and Lambin, E. F. (2000). Impact of macroeconomic change on deforestation in South Cameroon: Integration of household survey and remotely-sensed data. World Development 28:983–999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Moore, P., Ganz, D., Tan, L. C., Enters, T., and Durst, P. B., editors. (2002). Communities in flames. In Proceedings of an International Conference on Community Involvement in Fire Management. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Murdiyarso, D., Lebel, L., Gintings, A. N., Tampubolon, S. M. H., Heil, A., and Wasson, M. (2004). Policy responses to complex environmental problems: Insights from a science-policy activity on transboundary haze from vegetation fires in Southeast Asia. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 104(1):47–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Nepstad, D. C., Verissimo, A., Alencar, A., Nobre, C., Lima, E., Lefebvre, P., Schlesinger, P., Potter, C., Mountinho, P., Mendoza, E., Cochrane, M. A., and Brooks, V. (1999). Large-scale impoverishment of Amazonian forests by logging and fire. Nature 398: 505–508.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Pereira, J. M. C., Chuvieco, E., Beaudoin, A., and Desbois, N. (1997). Remote sensing of burned areas: A review. In Chuvieco, E (ed.), A review of remote sensing methods for the study of large wildland fires, Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá, Spain.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Philo, C., Mitchell, R., and More, A. (1998). Reconsidering quantitative geography: The things that count. Environment and Planning A 30:191–201.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Potter, L., and Badcock, S. (2001). The Effects of Indonesia/s Decentralisation on Forests and Estate Crops in Riau Province: Case Studies of the Original Districts of Kampar and Indragiri Hulu, CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/docs/_ref/publications/books.htm

  54. Potter, L., and Lee, J. (1998a). Oil palm in Indonesia: its role in forest conversion and the fires of 1997/98, WWF—Indonesia Programme, Jakarta, Indonesia.

  55. Potter, L., and Lee, J. (1998b). Tree planting in Indonesia: Trends, impacts and directions, Occasional Paper No.18. CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Project FireFight South East Asia. (2003). Convicting Forest and Land Fire Offences: A Case Study of the Legal Process in Riau, Indonesia. Project FireFight, Jakarta, Indonesia.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Resosudarmo, I. A. P., and Dermawan, A. (2002). Forests and regional autonomy: The challenge of sharing the profits and pains. In Colfer, C.J.P., and Resosudarmo, I.A.P, Which Way Forward? People, Forests and Policymaking in Indonesia, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC, pp. 325–357

  58. Robbins, P. (2003). Beyond ground truth: GIS and the environmental knowledge of herders, professional foresters, and traditional communities. Human Ecology 31:233–253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Siegert, F., Boehm, H.-D. V., Rieley, J. O., Page, S., Jauhiainen, J., Vasander, H., and Jaya, A. (2001a). Peat fires in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia: Fire impacts and carbon release, International Asian Wetland Symposium 2001, Penang, Malaysia.

  60. Siegert, F., and Hoffmann, A. A. (2000). The 1998 Forest Fires in East Kalimantan (Indonesia): A Quantitative Evaluation Using High Resolution, Multitemporal ERS-2 SAR Images and NOAA-AVHRR Hotspot Data. Remote Sensing of Environment 72:64–77.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Siegert, F., Ruecker, G., Hinrichs, A., and Hoffmann, A. A. (2001b). Increased damage from fires in logged forests during droughts caused by El Nino. Nature 414:437–440.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Simorangkir, D., Moore, P., Haase, N., and Ng, G., (Eds). (2002). Land clearing on degraded lands for plantation development. In A Workshop on Economics of Fire Use in Agriculture and Forest Plantations. October 24-25, 2002, Jakarta: Project FireFight South East Asia, Kuching.

  63. Simorangkir, D., and Sumatri. (2002). A Review of Legal, Regulatory and Institutional Aspects of Forest and Land Fires in Indonesia. Project FireFight South East Asia, Bogor, Indonesia.

  64. Stolle, F. (2000). Historical analysis of hot-spots of fires for the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia, CIFOR, ICRAF, USAID, US Forest Service, and UNESCO, Bogor, Indonesia.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Stolle, F., Chomitz, K. M., Lambin, E. F., and Tomich, T. P. (2003). Land use and vegetation fires in Jambi Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, Forest Ecology and Management 179:277–292.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Suyanto, S. (2000). Fire, deforestation and land tenure in the north-eastern fringes of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Lampung, ICRAF Research Paper, ICRAF, Bogor, Indonesia.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Suyanto, S., Dennis, R. A., Kurniawan, I., Stolle, F., Maus, P., and Applegate, G. (2000a). The underlying causes and impacts of fires in South-east Asia. Site 1. Sekincau, Lampung Province, Indonesia, CIFOR, ICRAF and USFS, Bogor, Indonesia, http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/fire-project/index.htm.

  68. Suyanto, S., Dennis, R. A., Ruchiat, Y., Kurniawan, I., Stolle, F., Maus, P., and Applegate, G. (2000b). The underlying causes and impacts of fires in South-east Asia. Site 2. Menggala, Lampung Province, Indonesia, CIFOR, ICRAF and USFS, Bogor, Indonesia, http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/fire-project/index.htm.

  69. Suyanto, S., Pandu Permana, R., Khususiyah, N., and Laxman, J. (2003). The role of land tenure in adopting agroforestry and reducing wild fire in a forest zone in Lampung-Sumatra, ICRAF, Bogor, Indonesia.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Suyanto, S., and Ruchiat, Y. (2000). The underlying cause and impacts of fires in South-east Asia: Impacts of human activities and land tenure conflict on fire and land use change: Case study of Menggala-Lampung-Sumatra, Socio-economic report no. 2, CIFOR, ICRAF and US-Forest Services, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/fire-project/index.htm.

  71. Suyanto, S., Ruchiat, Y., Erman, A., Maus, P., Stolle, F., Hadi, D. P., Dennis, R., and Applegate, G. (2000c). The underlying causes and impacts of fires in South-east Asia. Site 7, Tumbang Titi, West Kalimantan Province, Indonesia, CIFOR, ICRAF and USFS, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/fire-project/index.htm.

  72. Suyanto, S., Ruchiat, Y., Stolle, F., and Applegate, G. (2000d). The underlying causes and impacts of fires in South-east Asia, Site 6. Tanah Tumbuh, Jambi Province, Indonesia. CIFOR, ICRAF and USFS, Bogor, Indonesia, http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/fire-project/index.htm.

  73. Tacconi, L. (2003). Fires in Indonesia: causes, costs, and policy implications, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.

  74. Telapak Indonesia (2000). Planting Disaster: Biodiversity, Social Economy and Human Rights Issues in Large-scale Oil Palm Plantations in Indonesia, Telapak Indonesia, LBB Puti Jaji, Madanika, Bogor, Indonesia.

    Google Scholar 

  75. Tomich, T. P. (1999). Interview with Mr. Nabil Makarim. In Tomich T.P., Thomas D.E., and van Noordwijk, M., (eds.), Research Abstracts and Key Policy Questions—Methodology Workshop on Environmental Services and Land Use Change, Bridging the Gap between Policy and Research in Southeast, Asia, ASB-Indonesia Report No. 10, Bogor, Indonesia, pp. 14–20.

  76. Tomich, T. P., Fagi, A. M., de Foresta, H., Michon, G., Murdiyarso, D., Stolle, F., and van Noordwijk, M. (1998a). Indonesia’s fires: Smoke as a problem, smoke as a symptom. Agroforestry Today 10:4–7.

    Google Scholar 

  77. Tomich, T. P., and Lewis, J., (eds.) (2001). Deregulating Agroforestry Timber to Fight Poverty and Protect the Environment, Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn Programme, ICRAF, Nairobi.

    Google Scholar 

  78. Tomich, T. P., and Lewis, J. (2002). Reducing Smoke Pollution from Tropical Forests, ASB Policybrief No.4.

  79. Tomich, T. P., van Noordwijk, M., Budidarsono, S., Gillison, A., Kusumanto, T., Murdiyarso, D., Stolle, F., and Fagi, A. M. (1998b). Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn in Indonesia, Summary Report of Phase II, ASB-Indonesia and ICRAF SE Asia., Bogor.

    Google Scholar 

  80. Tomich, T. P., van Noordwijk, M., Budidarsono, S., Gillison, A., Kusumanto, T., Murdiyarso, D., Stolle, F., and Fagi, A. M. (2001). Agricultural Intensification, Deforestation, and the Environment: Assessing Tradeoffs in Sumatra, Indonesia. In Lee, D.R., and Barrett, C.B., (eds.), Tradeoffs or Synergies? Agricultural Intensification, Economic Development and the Environment, CAB International, Wallingford, UK, pp. 221–244.

    Google Scholar 

  81. Turner, B. L., Villar, S. C., Foster, D., Geoghegan, J., Keys, E., Klepeis, P., Lawrence, D., Mendoza, P. M., Manson, S., Ogneva-Himmelberger, Y., Plotkin, A. B., Salicrup, D. P., Chowdhury, R. R., Savitsky, B., Schneider, L., Schmook, B., and Vance, C. (2001). Deforestation in the southern Yucatan peninsular region: An integrative approach. Forest Ecology and Management 154:353–370.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Turner, M. D. (2003). Methodological reflections on the use of remote sensing and geographic information science in human ecological research. Human Ecology 31:255–279.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Vayda, A. P. (1999). Findings and causes of the 1997–98 Indonesian forest fires: Problems and possibilities, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)—Indonesia, Jakarta.

    Google Scholar 

  84. YDT, (2003). Communal management of tropical forests and reforestation of degraded grasslands as an integrated strategy for rural development, (Proposal to the European Community, cited by permission). Yayasan Dian Tama, Pontianak, Indonesia.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rona A. Dennis.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dennis, R.A., Mayer, J., Applegate, G. et al. Fire, People and Pixels: Linking Social Science and Remote Sensing to Understand Underlying Causes and Impacts of Fires in Indonesia. Hum Ecol 33, 465–504 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-005-5156-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • fires
  • underlying causes
  • remote sensing
  • GIS
  • participatory mapping
  • Indonesia