Sharpening Regulations to Break the Chain of Forest and Land Fires
Sharpening Regulations to Break the Chain of Forest and Land Fires

Sharpening Regulations to Break the Chain of Forest and Land Fires

Authors: Diah Ilmi Rizqiyana, Rosaninda FS

Reviewers: Farid Al-Firdaus, Nadia Faradiba, Dwi Martutiningrum, Dinda Ganisawati Javada

Indonesia’s Vision 2045 is the realization of sustainable economic development with a commitment to the environment with a target of increasing the Environmental Quality Index (IKLH) to more than 80 supported by the implementation of Low Carbon Development. Based on the data, during the 2000-2020 period, there was a spike in national carbon emissions in 2015, most of which were caused by emissions from peat fires, so that the forestry sector had the largest portion of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, namely with a target of 60% in meeting the carbon neutral or net-zero emission target. Meanwhile, based on data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) for the period January-July 2023, the area of ​​forest and land fires in Indonesia has reached 90,405 hectares (ha) and produced emissions of more than 5.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

Figure: Gross forestry and land-based carbon emissions (in million tonnes CO2e)

Sources: KLHK, 2023 

Causes of Forest and Land Fires (Karhutla)

Forest and land fires are caused by natural factors and uncontrolled human activity factors. Natural factors, namely the El Nino factor, which causes prolonged dryness so that plants dry out, there is friction between trees which can then cause sparks. In fact, the majority of fires that occur in Indonesia are caused by humans, whether intentionally or unintentionally. The results of research by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in 2017 stated that forest and land fires in Indonesia were entirely caused by human factors in the last 10 years.

Weak or vague regulations can provide loopholes for illegal forest burning practices. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has sued 22 companies that caused forest and land fires in Indonesia starting from 2015 to 2023. Cases of forest and land fires cause environmental damage that occurs afterwards, so that in several decisions on environmental cases/cases such as forest and land fires there are decisions that require companies/actors to carry out environmental restoration but there are no technical regulations regarding the management of these recovery funds. Several cases of state losses due to forest fires in Indonesia:

Table : Causes of Forest and Land Fires in Indonesia

NoCaseJudgmentTotal Value
1PT KA1 PK/Pdt/2017Rp 366 billion
2PT RKA83/PDT/LH/2022/PT PTKRp 920 billion
3PT BMH51/PDT/2016/PT.PLGRp 78 billion
4PT NSP591/Pdt.G-LH/2015/PN.Jkt.SelRp1,07 trillion

Source : vorius Supreme Court (MA) decisions

Various problems as explained above show that the law enforcement process in fire and land cases is not yet optimal and has not provided a deterrent effect for perpetrators, especially corporations. Therefore, optimizing law enforcement in cases of forest and land fires still needs more attention.

Source: Performance report Ditjen Gakkum KLHK 2022 (Gakkum, 2023)

The Impact of Forest and Land Fires

Forest and land fires have a negative impact on the environment because they produce smoke which pollutes the air. According to data from the Energy Institute, Indonesia is the sixth largest country producing carbon emissions in the world, which is around 2.01% of the world’s total carbon emissions or around 692 million tons in 2022. One of the reasons for this high CO2 emissions is contributed by the land and forest use sector.

Figure 3: Data on countries producing the highest carbon emissions in the world

The smoke produced from forest and land fires consists of a mixture of dust and chemical compounds which have health effects such as eye and skin irritation, respiratory tract infections, and even death. For example, 2019 was the year with the highest carbon emissions due to forest fires in Indonesia (624,163,985 tonnes of CO2) which caused tens of thousands of people to contract acute respiratory infections (Ministry of Health 2019).

Figure 4: Data on ISPA sufferers in Indonesia in 2019 in areas with the highest forest and land fires. 

Strengthening civil regulations related to forest and land fires recovery

There are overlapping regulations regarding the legality of land clearing mechanisms by burning. Based on Article 26 of the 2004 Law concerning Plantations, it is explained that every business actor (planter and company) is prohibited from clearing land by burning whereas in Law Number 32 of 2009 concerning Environmental Protection and Management Article 69 paragraph (2) still provides space to clear land by burning it taking into account local wisdom. This provides an opening for perpetrators who can cause forest and land fires. Article 69 paragraph (2) needs to be reviewed to be revised or deleted so that there is no opportunity for forest and land fires to occur due to deliberate burning. 

Cross-Ministerial Regulations with Utilization of compensation funds for forest restoration and preventive actions

The multi door approach is a strategy for handling land and forest fire crime cases using several statutory regulations. In terms of effectiveness and efficiency, multidoor law enforcement is considered the most effective and efficient in providing a deterrent effect for forest and land arsonists (Substantive Justice, Utji Sri Wulan Wuryandar 2022). As part from that, Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of the Republic of Indonesia Number 13 of 2011 concerning Compensation for Damages Due to Environmental Pollution and/or Damage, currently there are no technical regulations. Stakeholders, in this case the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Environmental Recovery Fund Management Agency, should make an MoU and technical regulations to regulate post-civil judgment recovery funds which have permanent legal force immediately. The role of government, community associations and law enforcement officials is needed in this preventive process.


Sharp regulations that can provide a deterrent effect on perpetrators of forest burning as an extraordinary crime and educating the public about the consequences and losses incurred involving in forest burning, It is hoped that forest and land fires in Indonesia will decrease, carbon in the air controlled as forests function optimally, and Indonesia’s Environmental Quality Index (IKLH) in 2045 will be achieved according to the target.


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