Firefighters exstinguish a peatland fire in Pekanbaru, Riau province, on Feb 1, 2018. (Source: AFP)

Jakarta (VNA)  – Singapore’s efforts to restore its peatlands destroyed by fire can serve as an example for other countries facing similar issues, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Erik Solheim has stated.

Praising Indonesia for its success in peatland governance, Solheim said that the international community is paying close attention to how Indonesia manages its more than 15 million ha of peatland, one of the largest areas in the world.

Forest fires on peatlands in Sumatra and Kalimantan in 2015 led to trans-boundary haze that blanketed the region and resulted in record air pollution levels across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore for months that year.

Since then, Indonesia has managed to limit the amount of land burned and prevented a repeat of the 2015 crisis.

President Joko Widodo has also made the issue of illegal forest fires and peatland management in his country a national priority.

He established the Peatland Restoration Agency in 2016, helmed by former conservation director at WWF-Indonesia Nazir Foead, whose aim is to restore damaged peatland on companies' concessions and government land.

Peatlands are carbon-rich and highly flammable during the dry season, and release high levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned.-VNA