Talk Series X Environmental Discussion Series: Unveiling the Devastating Consequences of Forest Fires Friday, 27 October 2023 on 2:42pm

Talk Series X Environmental Discussion Series: Unveiling the Devastating Consequences of Forest Fires

In the "Talk Series X Environmental Discussion: Forest Fire Impact on Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change,", the discussant and participant came together virtually to discuss the profound consequences of forest fires on our environment and climate. Organized by SEAMEO BIOTROP, ICMI (Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Indonesia), and CWOES (Centre Women for Environmental Sustainability), the event took place on October 17, 2023, from 19:30 to 21:00 virtually through Zoom platform, drawing 74 participants from across Indonesia.

The seminar was graced by a panel of distinguished speakers: Prof. Dr. Bambang Hero Saharjo from the Department of Silviculture, Faculty of Forestry, IPB University; Dr. Supriyanto; and Mr. Agus Rusli, the Secretary-General for Climate Change at KLHK. The session was deftly moderated by Dr. Zulhamsyah Imran, the Director of SEAMEO BIOTROP.

Opening remarks were given by Dr. Zulhamsyah Imran, followed by Dra. Hulfa, the Director of CWOES, and  Prof. Mohammad Jafar Hapsah, who serves as the Deputy for Science and Technology, Agromaritime and Environment, at ICMI.

In his opening remarks Dr. Zulhamsyah spotlighted Indonesia's troubling recurrence of forest fires, and their devastating impacts on biodiversity and climate. "Indonesia has been facing significant challenges with forest fires, which not only destroy habitats and lead to a loss in biodiversity but also contribute immensely to greenhouse gas emissions. This exacerbates the ongoing climate crisis," said Dr. Zulhamsyah. He further emphasized the importance of ongoing discussions and knowledge-sharing events like these, considering the forest fire crisis's depth and broad implications.

Dr Hulfa elaborated on the broader health repercussions, emphasizing the pronounced health risks forest fires present, especially to vulnerable groups like women and children. "The smoke arising from forest fires has particulates that can severely affect respiratory health. It's especially concerning for women, children, and the elderly," the representative explained. An intriguing aspect discussed was the delay in addressing some forest fires due to the lands being owned by absentee landlords, leading to challenges in immediate response and mitigation.

Prof. Bambang Hero Saharjo provided fundamental knowledge on forest fires, addressing their causes, phases, and various types. Following him, Dr. Supriyanto highlighted the adverse effects of forest fires on plant species, particularly those producing essential oils. Losses encompassed biodiversity decline, reduced production, and reduced resilience of survivor species. He also emphasized the fires' influence on soil fertility, water retention, and increased run-off, alongside their health implications and contribution to global climate change. Dr Supriyanto concluded his presentation with the notion of forest fire affect to the biodiversity loss of species producing essential oil or other aromatic plants, and that tubers and rhizomes plant group may contribute to the resiliencies to the forest fire.

The session concluded with a unanimous acknowledgment of the need for holistic interventions, calling for synergetic collaborations involving government agencies, NGOs, and private entities. As a move to perpetuate the efforts and discussions, CWOES announced an upcoming event on October 31, aiming to celebrate and honor those at the forefront of combating environmental decline. Those keen on a detailed exploration of the seminar's insights can find a thorough overview on the BIOTROP website.

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