The 1997-1998 forest fires in Indonesia raised concerns regarding the impact of these events on human settlements and the capacities of national and local authorities to manage disaster. The objectives of this initiative were to increase the capacity of communities to mitigate and manage the effects of forest fires through the strengthening of their traditional methods of prevention and management.
This was undertaken through an initial capacity assessment sponsored by the Government of Japan. This document, “Proposal for Reducing Risk in Human Settlements in Indonesia Forest and Land Fires” was published by UN-HABITAT in 2000. The assessment focused on deepening the understanding of the impacts of forest fires on communities, the impact of the tensions between local and national government on the management of forest fires and the ways that communities could be more involved in forest fire management in the future. Based on this capacity assessment, needs were identified to address important gaps in the present initiatives to address the impacts of forest fires in the country. These included enabling the equitable use of land and local resources for forest fire prevention; reducing the vulnerability of communities through improved local planning; and building the capacity of local stakeholders in land and resource management practices.