In the first eight months of 2019, over 300,000 hectares of land were burned by fire, and the past week has seen a surge in fire alerts across the entire Indonesian archipelago. According to Global Forest Watch, the 8,903 fire alerts is more than twice the average number for this time of year. What makes the situation more complex is that 43 percent of the fires are fuelled by peatlands. These carbon-rich swamps become highly combustible when drained of water for conversion into commercial plantations, such as oil palm. Forming over millennia, the ancient carbon locked in dense layers of peat is released on burning, causing CO2 levels to rise and contributing to global climate change.
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