INDONESIA – Giant paper producer Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a subsidiary of diversified conglomerate Sinar Mas Group, has announced that it is stepping up efforts to fight forest and bush fires in its concession areas in anticipation of the dry season.
APP director Suhendra Wiriadinata said recently that the effort was needed as the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) had estimated this year’s dry season would be longer than the last year’s, with the peak expected to be in August-September.
He also said the company was targeting zero forest fires in all of its concession areas by 2020. “We saw great results from our fire prevention programs last year. Fire only affected 0.07 percent of our concessions areas,” he said over the weekend.
Suhendra said APP had invested Rp 300 billion (US$14.27 million) this year to prevent forest and land fires. “Since the huge forest fires in our concessions areas in 2014-2015, APP Sinar Mas has invested around Rp 1.3 trillion for forest and land fire prevention,” he said.
He said the company had held information sessions for local communities on the danger of forest fires and encouraged the people to use alternative land-clearing methods.
Meanwhile, APP manager of technology and fire data management Gustaf Runtung said the company had established an integrated fire management system (IFMS) in all of its concession areas in five provinces” Jambi, South Sumatra, Riau, West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan.
“We have developed a strategy for prevention, preparation, early detection and rapid response,” Gustaf said, adding that AP had prepared 3,180 firefighters, 506 fire monitoring posts, 102 fire lookout towers, 138 fire trucks, 608 patrol vehicles, 10 water bombing helicopters, 52 thermal and CCTV cameras, nine airboats and 55 speedboats.
The BMKG predicts that this year’s dry season will be drier and more intense than last year’s as it coincides with the El Niño phenomenon. (nal/bbn)