TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Lumajang Regency's Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has said that around 717 hectares of forests on the slopes of Mount Semeru in East Java have been razed by fires since the start of the dry season.
"Hundreds of hectares of forests that were affected belong to state forestry firm Perhutani and the Bromo Tengger Semeru (BTS) National Park," said Lumajang regency's BPBD chief, Purwanto, on Friday, November 7, 2014.
According to Purwanto, fires were highly prevalent throughout the dry season, and the last fire known to BPBD happened near the village of Oro-Oro Ombo in Pronojiwo district, which burned from late October to early November.
"Thank God, we managed to extinguish the fires with the help of our partner organizations," said Purwanto. "That said, around 717 hectares were destroyed—242,5 hectares of the forests belong to Perhutani, while the remaining 475 hectares located within the boundaries of BTS National Park."
No casualties have been reported throughout the season, but the fires on the slopes of the highest peak in Java have killed significant populations of flora and fauna in its wake.
As such, Purwanto said that BPBD had coordinated with Perhutani, the Forestry Agency, as well as BTS National Park authorities to take further steps to prevent the fires from recurring.
"In the interest of preventing the disappearance of major fresh water springs and to avoid landslides from occurring in the following monsoon season, we hope that the government will commit to the process of reforestation in the area," said Purwanto.
Meanwhile, the chief ranger at BTS National Park, Ayu Dewi Utari, said around 300 hectares of forests on the slopes of Mount Semeru were destroyed in the fire.
"The last reported fire occurred right on one of our hiking trails on October 24, 2014, around Ranu Kumbolo and Watu Rajeng, to be exact," said Ayu.