JAKARTA — Favorable weather conditions point to a less severe forest fire season in Indonesia this year, but the burning could still compound what is now the worst coronavirus situation of any country, experts say. However, as the country is battling a second wave of coronavirus infections and entering the dry season at the same time, Indonesia couldn’t afford to rest on its laurels, experts warn. Official data show that fires burned 35,271 hectares (87,157 acres) of land from January to May 2021, a 9% decrease from the same period in 2020. But fires are expected to increase as the country enters the dry season. “Indeed, from August until October, and even November, that’s the peak [of the dry season],” Basar Manullang, the director of fire mitigation at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said in a recent webinar. “From August to October, we need to be extra cautious and focus on land and forest fire mitigation.” The risk of forest fires and their resulting haze, which typically sicken hundreds of thousands of people every year, is especially worrying this time around as Indonesia reels from a devastating second wave of COVID-19 that has made the country the global epicenter of the pandemic. Daily infection rates and deaths continue to rise, leaving hospitals overwhelmed and oxygen and medicine scarce. The confirmed total death toll in the country has surpassed 74,000, the highest in Asia, bar India. Experts say the onset of the fire season, and the smoke generated, will stretch…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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