INDONESIA – Sustainable pulp and paper producer Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) Group has reasserted its pledge to prevent forest fires at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, Scotland.
Known as COP26, the summit brought together a number of world leaders to deliver concrete actions and coordinate tangible plans to tackle climate change, emphasizing collaboration between governments, the private sector and the general public in a bid to reach net zero emissions.
During a discussion on forest fire management held by the Environment and Forestry Ministry at COP26, Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper president director Sihol Aritonang identified several components of managing potential fire risks, which include prevention, preparation, suppression and recovery.
Sihol shared that prevention is a core aspect of APRIL Group’s Fire Free Village Program (FFVP), a multi-stakeholder collaborative effort to address the root causes of fire through education and increased awareness on the impact of unmanaged burning and smoke haze first conceived in 2015.
“The main tenet of this concept is that we recognized prevention as the most effective way to manage fire risks. And that brings us to the second understanding, which is providing incentives for communities,” he explained.
The FFVP runs on three stages: creating a fire-aware community by educating them on fire risks and hazards, developing a fire-free village and helping the community to become fire-resilient and have all the knowledge and ability to prevent and manage potential fires.
At the same time, the program incentivizes villages in the form of a community project of their choice. It also works by appointing fire crew leaders from the community to detect, report and extinguish fires.
Sustainable agriculture is also a key component in the approach, as Sihol noted that burning used to be a common method for communities to clear land for agricultural purposes.
“APRIL offers them alternative solutions. If any member of the community wishes to clear their land, they can call APRIL and we will send heavy equipment to support them.”
Alongside fostering awareness through community-level programs at schools and social gatherings, APRIL also installed air quality monitoring devices in the villages, regularly providing them with the data to provide suggestions and improvements.
“We have not been able to totally eliminate land fire or forest fire, especially around our concession areas, but the incidence of fire has been reduced significantly,” Sihol explained.
Since its inception, FFVP has engaged with 77 communities covering more than 600,000 hectares, reducing more than 90 percent of burnt area. In 2020 alone, 33 villages were involved with the program.
FFVP is part of APRIL’s sustainability agenda in preventing forest fires. Last year, APRIL strengthened its sustainability commitment with APRIL2030, a series of tangible actions expected to make positive contributions to the climate, nature and community, while also supporting the Indonesian government’s climate change mitigation efforts.
As part of the APRIL2030 commitment, APRIL Group has also launched a number of other initiatives, including the Paper Once More! recycling program by its flagship paper brand PaperOne, as well as constructing a solar panel with a capacity of 20 MW in the company’s operational site, expected to become one of the biggest solar panel installations by a private company in Indonesia when it commences operation in 2025.
This article is a joint collaboration between The Jakarta Post and APRIL Group.