Generating Anticipatory Measures for Better Utilization of Tropical Peatlands
Peat fires cause harm to the health and livelihoods of the people of Indonesia. These fires begin when landowners use fire to clear the ground for planting, but, unlike other soils, peat soil itself ignites. These fires quickly spiral out of control, burning deep into the ground, and smoldering for weeks or months on end, emitting a dangerous haze into the air. This haze destroys biodiversity, interrupts air traffic, stops tourism, closes businesses, and causes widespread illness, and deaths.
The GAMBUT project is designed to prevent, or quickly suppress these fires, and by doing so, save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. At the core of GAMBUT is the Fire Risk System, or FRS (www.kebakaranhutan.or.id), a computerized forecasting tool that assess socioeconomic and biophysical factors to predict where hotspots will occur, up to 3 months in advance. Using the FRS, the GAMBUT project team than identifies high risk areas in which to trial interventions, such as land rehabilitation, fire-fighter training, and integrated fire management-based planning.
The GAMBUT project is implemented by UNOPS in collaboration with UN Environment and with funding from USAID. The project works with two of the world’s foremost research centers – the Center for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management in Southeast Asia and Pacific at Bogor Agricultural University and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.