Impact of the 2015 land fire in Indonesia estimated at $16 billion

Between June and October 2015 2.6 million hectares (ha) of land were burning in Indonesia.  Of this around 100,000 ha were man-made fires intended to prepare land for conversion to agriculture and other purposes.  The fires were out of control as a result of drought and exacerbated by the effect of El Nino. The total economic impact was estimated at USD 16.1 billion, comprising the cost to the environment, and health, biodiversity loss,  and agriculture and forest damage.

The island of Sumatera (Sumatra) and Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) where most of the country peatland are located were the hardest hit.  The provinces of South Sumatera and Central Kalimantan represented 23% and 16% of the total fire area, respectively, while the fire on  Papua (Indonesian New Guinea) represented 10%.  It is estimated that the fires generated emission of 1,750 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

On October 23, 2015 the President of Indonesia called for renewing the moratorium on new peatland concessions and a cancellation of existing concessions that have not been developed, thereby halting the legal conversion of peatland and peat swamp forest into agricultural land.   He also called for peatland restoration, including re-wetting priority areas.  He said that this should be accompanied by efforts to conserve the remaining peat swamp forest and to stop drainage in areas of deep forest or high biodiversity.

The World Bank : The Cost of Fire