Every year, Indonesia catches on fire. Intentionally set as a cheap way to clear land for palm oil plantations, pulp and paper mill operations, and other agriculture, the fires create smoke and haze that are debilitating for many. But this year the fires grew wildly out of control courtesy of prolonged drought and the effects of El Niño. Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry announced that more than 4.2 million acres of forest and open land had been destroyed by the fires so far. It's devastating. The economic impact is staggering, lives have been lost, hundreds of thousands of people have become sick from the smoke, and wildlife is in great peril. This is a disaster of epic proportions.
Researchers from the scientific non-profit, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), traveled to Palangka Raya in Central Kalimantan to try and get an assessment of the situation. The following images were taken during their research (most of these are from mid-October) and show not only the bleak reality, but that life must go one even when the world is on fire.