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Kiely, L.; Spracklen, D. V.; Arnold, S. R.; Papargyropoulou, E.; Conibear, L.; Wiedinmyer, C.; Knote, C. and Adrianto, H. A. (2021): Assessing costs of Indonesian fires and the benefits of restoring peatland. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 12, No. 1, 7044

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Deforestation and drainage has made Indonesian peatlands susceptible to burning. Large fires occur regularly, destroying agricultural crops and forest, emitting large amounts of CO2 and air pollutants, resulting in adverse health effects. In order to reduce fire, the Indonesian government has committed to restore 2.49 Mha of degraded peatland, with an estimated cost of US$3.2-7 billion. Here we combine fire emissions and land cover data to estimate the 2015 fires, the largest in recent years, resulted in economic losses totalling US$28 billion, whilst the six largest fire events between 2004 and 2015 caused a total of US$93.9 billion in economic losses. We estimate that if restoration had already been completed, the area burned in 2015 would have been reduced by 6%, reducing CO2 emissions by 18%, and PM2.5 emissions by 24%, preventing 12,000 premature mortalities. Peatland restoration could have resulted in economic savings of US$8.4 billion for 2004-2015, making it a cost-effective strategy for reducing the impacts of peatland fires to the environment, climate and human health. Deforestation and drainage have made Indonesian peatlands susceptible to burning. Here the authors find that Indonesia's 2015 fires resulted in economic losses totaling US$28 billion, while the area burned and emissions released could have been significantly reduced had restoration been completed.

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