Vetrita, Y; Cochrane, MA (2020). Fire Frequency and Related Land-Use and Land-Cover Changes in Indonesia's Peatlands. REMOTE SENSING, 12(1), 5.

Indonesia's converted peatland areas have a well-established fire problem, but limited studies have examined the frequency with which they are burning. Here, we quantify fire frequency in Indonesia's two largest peatland regions, Sumatra and Kalimantan, during 2001-2018. We report, annual areas burned, total peatland area affected by fires, amount of recurrent burning and associations with land-use and land-cover (LULC) change. We based these analyses on Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Terra/Aqua combined burned area and three Landsat-derived LULC maps (1990, 2007, and 2015) and explored relationships between burning and land-cover types. Cumulative areas burned amounted nearly half of the surface areas of Sumatra and Kalimantan but were concentrated in only similar to 25% of the land areas. Although peatlands cover only 13% of Sumatra and Kalimantan, annual percentage of area burning in these areas was almost five times greater than in non-peatlands (2.8% vs. 0.6%) from 2001 to 2018. Recurrent burning was more prominent in Kalimantan than Sumatra. Average fire-return intervals (FRI) in peatlands of both regions were short, 28 and 45 years for Kalimantan and Sumatra, respectively. On average, forest FRI were less than 50 years. In non-forest areas, Kalimantan had shorter average FRI than Sumatra (13 years vs. 40 years), with ferns/low shrub areas burning most frequently. Our findings highlight the significant influence of LULC change in altering fire regimes. If prevalent rates of burning in Indonesia's peatlands are not greatly reduced, peat swamp forest will disappear from Sumatra and Kalimantan in the coming decades.