Fire in Borneo Peatlands

  • Sue PageEmail author
  • Agata HosciloEmail author
Reference work entry


Fire frequency has been increasing in recent decades in Southeast Asia, particularly with the expansion of agriculture and wood extraction on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. These peatland fires are causing high emissions of carbon and particulates, as well as long-term changes to forest composition, biomass, and structure. Only a few tree species in this ecosystem have fire adaptations, e.g., tumeh (Combretocarpus rotundatus), so that such species are common on fire-degraded peatlands. The protection of remaining forests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra could be possible as a result of policy initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, rehabilitation of these forests may present opportunities for mitigation. At the same time, there are a number of technological and sociological challenges for the restoration of these forested peatlands. These landscapes are now highly fire-prone, and the livelihoods of local people need attention for these measures to succeed.


Agricultural expansion Combretocarpus rotundatus Disturbance Forest degradation Peatland fire Southeast Asia 


  1. Abram NJ, Gagan MK, Liu Z, Hantoro WS, McCulloch MT, Suwargadi BW. Seasonal characteristics of the Indian Ocean Dipole during the Holocene epoch. Nature. 2007;445:299–302.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Achard F, Eva HD, Stibig H-J, Mayaux P, Gallego J, Richards T, Malingreau J-P. Determination of deforestation rates of the world’s humid tropical forests. Science. 2002;297:999–1002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bowman D, Balch JK, Artaxo P, Bond WJ, Carlson JM, Cochrane MA, D’Antonio CM, DeFries RS, Doyle JC, Harrison SP, Johnston FH, Keeley JE, Krawchuk MA, Kull CA, Marston JB, Moritz MA, Prentice IC, Roos CI, Scott AC, Swetnam TW, van der Werf GR, Pyne SJ. Fire in the earth system. Science. 2009;324:481–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Cochrane MA. Fire in the tropics. In: Cochrane MA, editor. Tropical fire ecology. Berlin: Springer; 2006.Google Scholar
  5. Geist HJ, Lambin EF. Proximate causes and underlying driving forces of tropical deforestation. BioScience. 2002;52:143–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hansen MC, Stehman SV, Potapov PV, Arunarwati B, Stolle F, Pittman K. Quantifying changes in the rates of forest clearing in Indonesia from 1990 to 2005 using remotely sensed data sets. Env Res Lett. 2009;4. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/4/3/034001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Heil A, Goldammer JG. Smoke–haze pollution: a review of the 1997 episode in South-east Asia. Reg Env Change. 2001;2:24–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hoscilo A, Page SE, Tansey KJ. Rieley JO Effect of repeated fires on land cover change on peatland in southern Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, 1973 to 2005. Int J Wildland Fire. 2011;20:578–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hoscilo A, Tansey KJ, Page SE. Post-fire vegetation response as a proxy to quantify the magnitude of burn severity in tropical peatland. Int J Remote Sens. 2013;34:412–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Langner A, Miettinen J, Siegert F. Land cover change 2002–2005 in Borneo and the role of fire derived from MODIS imagery. Glob Chang Biol. 2007;13:2329–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Langner A, Siegert F. Spatiotemporal fire occurrence in Borneo over a period of 10 years. Glob Chang Biol. 2009;15:48–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Miettinen J, Shi C, Liew SC. Deforestation rates in insular Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2010. Glob Chang Biol. 2011;17:2261–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mouillot F, Field CB. Fire history and the global carbon budget: a 1 ° × 1 ° fire history reconstruction for the 20th century. Glob Chang Biol. 2005;11:398–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Page SE, Siegert F, Rieley JO, Boehm H-DV, Jaya A, Limin S. The amount of carbon released from peat and forest fires in Indonesia in 1997. Nature. 2002;420:61–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Page SE, Hoscilo A, Wosten H, Jauhiainen J, Silvius M, Rieley J, Ritzema H, Tansey K, Graham L, Vasander H, Limin S. Restoration ecology of lowland tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia: current knowledge and future research directions. Ecosystems. 2009;12:888–905. Scholar
  16. Page SE, Rieley JO, Banks CJ. Global and regional importance of the tropical peatland carbon pool. Glob Chang Biol. 2011;17:798–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schultz MG, Heil A, Hoelzemann JJ, Spessa A, Thonicke K, Goldammer J, Held AC, Pereira JS, van het Bolscher M. Global wildland fire emissions from 1960 to 2000. Glob Biogeochem Cycles. 2008;22:B2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. van der Werf GR, Randerson JT, Giglio L, Collatz GJ, Kasibhatla PS. Interannual variability in global biomass burning emission from 1997 to 2004. Atmos Chem Phys. 2006;6:3423–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Werth D, Avissar R. The local and global effects of Southeast Asian deforestation. Geophys Res Lett. 2005;12:L20702. doi:10.1029/2005GL022970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  2. 2.Remote Sensing CentreInstitute of Geodesy and CartographyWarsawPoland

Personalised recommendations