Jakarta - The Indonesian government has set aside the equivalent of more than 40,000 dollars this year for cooperation with Japan in forest fire management, a senior Forestry Ministry official said Wednesday.
"Through the cooperation, we hope Japan will grant more than 500 million yen [4.63 million yen]," said Soni Partono, director for forest fire management at the directorate general of forest protection and natural conservation. "Last year, Japan gave us 300 million yen for the cooperation."
Indonesia and Japan have long cooperated in the field and last year's grant was for training on how to prevent forest fires, the state-run Antara news agency quoted Partono as saying.
The cooperation this year was targeted at forest fire management in Jambi and Riau provinces on Sumatra island and West Kalimantan on the Indonesian portion of Borneo Island, he said, in addition to observation in the provinces of North Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and South Sulawesi.
Forest fires in Indonesia have become an international issue as their release of greenhouse gases have caused Indonesia to become the world's third-largest carbon emitter.
Each year since 1997, uncontrolled slash-and-burn practices by farmers, plantation owners and loggers, especially on Sumatra and Borneo, also sends haze into neighbouring countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand.
The smog causes health problems and losses amounting to billions of dollars from lost tourism revenue and flight delays, among other things.
The fires sparked diplomatic rows with Indonesia's neighbours. Indonesia has argued it lacks the money and technical expertise to prevent or control the fires in the vast archipelago nation.
Indonesia's deforestation has been driven by the pulp, timber, palm oil and biofuel industries. (dpa)