Southeast Asia Fire Danger Rating System Project
For the last two decades, Southeast Asia has been experiencing a growing problem with severe vegetation and forest fires. The 1997/98 fire season was particularly devastating with over 4 million hectares of agricultural land and more than 4.5 million hectares of forests being affected. Most of the fires were set intentionally to clear forests and shrub lands for plantation crops like oil palm, for land preparation for small farmer agriculture, and for planting fast-growing trees for pulpwood production. The situation was complicated by the unusually dry weather conditions that occurred as a consequence of the El Niño cycle.
The recurring fires, along with the associated smoke and haze, were responsible for serious economic, environmental, and health consequences to the region:
2.0 Project Response
In response to this critical situation, the Canadian International Development Agency provided Canadian fire experts to provide advice and small amounts of fire equipment and training to the Indonesian authorities. Subsequently, in response to the Regional Haze Action Plan and support from the Indonesian government, a detailed project proposal was developed and accepted that provided for the development and application of a decision support system, the South East Asia Forest Fire Danger Rating System, in Indonesia and other fire prone countries in the region. A fire danger rating system acts as an early warning mechanism to predict the threat of serious forest fires and to help mitigate damage caused by fires.
Subsequently, CIDA approached the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) of Natural Resources Canada through the Northern Forestry Centre (NoFC) to undertake the delivery of Canada's contribution to the initiative. The NoFC is one of the CFS forestry research centers, based in Edmonton. Its staff have been involved in forest fire research for over 80 years and developed the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System. FDRS systems adapted from the Canadian system have been in use in New Zealand, Alaska and other jurisdictions with success for some years.
3.0 Project Goal and Purpose
The goal of the Southeast Asia Fire Danger Rating System Project is to strengthen the environmental management capacity in the participating countries and to enhance regional cooperation in transboundary issues.
The specific purpose of the project is to enhance the capacity of resource management organizations in Southeast Asia to manage vegetation fires and the associated haze.
To achieve this goal and purpose, the project through its partners is developing, adapting and applying a fire danger rating system (FDRS) in the fire-prone areas of Southeast Asia, enhancing the vegetation fire information and management systems in the region, and enhancing the awareness and capacity of regional networks to provide early warning for anticipated fires and transboundary haze before they become serious.
4.0 Implementation Strategy
The project goal and purpose are being achieved by implementing a comprehensive program of technical cooperation to develop fire danger rating systems suitable for local conditions, and by strengthening regional capacities to coordinate, manage, and operate the systems. The systems will provide decision-makers with important, up-to-date information on land use, fire threat, and available human and material resources to respond.
The project implementation strategy consists of four inter-related components:
The project has developed a system to continuously map risk indicators using meteorological data and by mapping fuel types using satellite imagery, vegetative cover information, and soil type maps. The system can also estimate the severity of haze, which allows countries to issue public warnings and implement precautionary measures.
The initial geographic focus has been on Indonesia. The system now operates at the central or national level, with output produced on a daily basis. A pilot system is also operational in the province of West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo and another is under development in the province of Riau on the island of Sumatra. The system is also operational in peninsular Malaysia, with information provided on a daily basis, and is being extended to the states of Sabah and Sarawak. A complete description of the project implementation strategy and activities, reports, and FDRS maps can be found on the NFC project website (see http://nofc.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/seasia/).
5.0 Partner Organizations
The Northern Forestry Centre of the Canadian Forest Service was chosen as the Canadian executing agency for the project. The regional institutions directly involved in project activities include the following:
Other institutional stakeholders include Malaysia Department of Forestry, Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board, Sarawak Timber Association, the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), the Bogor Institute of Agriculture, the Indonesia Space Agency (LAPAN), the Asia Pacific Association of Forestry Research Institutions (APAFRI), and the Sub-regional Firefighting Arrangements for Sumatra and Borneo.
6.0 Duration and Budget
The project began on 3 November 1999 and will finish on 31 August 2004, a duration of 4.5 years.
The Canadian contribution to the project budget is Can$4.35 million. The contribution of regional partners includes Can$0.4 million from Indonesia and a similar amount from Malaysia.
7.0 Contribution to Sustainable Development
This project contributes to sustainable development in a number of ways:
If properly managed, the forests of the region can make a significant contribution to economic growth and development. Wood and paper products such as lumber, panels, and pulp and paper are important commodities of domestic consumption and international trade. They are used in the manufacture of a variety of value-added products such as furniture, doors and window frames, homes, and crafts. These industries are important sources of employment and income. Forests also provide non-wood products such as traditional medicines, plant and animal foods, building materials, and fibers that are important to rural people. A viable, dynamic forest sector can contribute in a variety of ways to the reduction of poverty, particularly in rural areas.
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Last Modified: 04/27/2004