Indonesia’s rainforests and peatlands suffered the worst fires since 2015 this year.
Over 3 million school children across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were prevented from going to school at the height of the fires.
The majority are back to school now, but air quality in the region is by no means “un-toxic”, and not all of the fires have been totally extinguished.
On 24th October, Photojournalist Nopri Ismi took some incredible pictures for Mongabay Indonesia while joining a water-bombing flight by the local disaster management agency known as BPBD.
Here are the aerial images taken a week ago that are a testament to the firefighters battling against the odds, as well as the respect we must pay the fires that continue to devastate Indonesia’s peatlands…
One member of the local disaster management agency (BPBD) survey’s the peat fires from a helicopter
He is one of 5,600 Indonesian firefighters who have been working tirelessly to suppress the flames.
Ampera Bridge, the landmark crossing over the Musi River in Palembang, is barely visible from the air
South Sumatra’s capital – co-host of last years Asian Games – is currently experiencing air quality amongst the world’s worst.
Smoke clouds billow from fires burning on peatland in Cengal subdistrict, Ogan Komering Ilir
Mongabay Indonesia | Nopri Ismi
Fires are clearly delineated by the haze in Cengal, Ogan Komering Ilir
Only scorched earth remains from fires that decimated Peatlands last month
Fires are still raging
Specially equipped helicopters are constantly dumping water on flames that refuse to burn out.
Strong winds combined with an insufferably hot dry season have combined to help spread the fires at rapid speeds
But climate change is still a hoax.
Pedamaran, in Ogan Komering Ilir district, has been allocated for Palm Oil Plantations
Despite being illegal, slash and burn tactics have long been the cheapest and preferred method of clearing the land for planting
Some of the fires are uncomfortably close to residential areas
Only the efforts of the BPBD have prevented this International Crisis From Becoming a Humanitarian Disaster
The praises of the forgotten fire fighters cannot be sung highly enough.
While the BPBD have been selflessly getting on with their job, they have effectively been battling the embers of hell with Organutan tears.
This is getting ridiculous.
What will it take for the management of our rainforests and peatlands to be taken seriously?
There are only so many times that these predictable annual fires can erupt like this before the world will have to exist without its precious Palm Oil, and the abundance of Indonesia’s ecosystems becomes something that we read in history books.
We are running out of chances to update Palm Oil practices fit for the 21st Century.
So let’s do a better job in 2020.