APRIL highlights community engagement as key to preventing fires and haze in Sumatra

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PANGKALAN KERINCI, Indonesia, Oct. 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Leading sustainable fibre, pulp and paper producer Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (“APRIL“) has highlighted the importance of community engagement as a means of limiting the occurrence of fires and hot spots in areas located around its operations in Sumatra, Indonesia. Through its Fire Free Village Programme (“FFVP“), APRIL has significantly reduced the incidence of fires among communities which are part of the programme. APRIL is a member of the Singapore-headquartered RGE group of companies founded by Sukanto Tanoto.

(PRNewsfoto/RGE Group)

The FFVP was set up in 2015 by APRIL to help educate and raise awareness about the negative impacts of land burning among local communities in Riau, Indonesia. The programme involves working closely with local communities to replace the need for fire as a land clearing tool, reducing the risk of fire spreading to surrounding areas.

The programme covers a total area of 803,684 ha, through partnership agreements with local communities. In 2021, the programme engaged with 215 village communities around APRIL’s concession areas. The FFVP has succeeded in reducing the total area damaged by fires from 4,279 ha in 2013 to 532 ha in 2021 – a drop of more than 87% – in communities that are participating in the programme.

Communities participating in the FFVP are typically in one of the following categories – Fire Aware Community (“FAC“), Fire Free Village (“FFV“), and Fire Resilient Community (“FRC“). Of the 215 villages engaged under the FFVP around APRIL’s concession areas, 141 villages were at the FAC stage. As the villages progress through the three-stages, participation has created a positive impact on the communities as well. Community members are selected as Fire Crew Leaders with a primary responsibility to prevent fires within the premises of the village and the surrounding concession areas.

Sihol Aritonang, President Director of PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (PT. RAPP), the operating arm of APRIL Group, said, “Our experience has shown that prevention is more effective and less costly than fire suppression, and we need to involve communities and other stakeholders. So far, the results have been positive and the villages that participated in this programme have mostly achieved a fire-free record, which means that the villages were able to reduce fire significantly in their respective areas.”

APRIL recently further advanced its commitment to protecting the region from fire through a memorandum of understanding on fire prevention with the local government of Siak regency, in Riau province. Mulia Nauli, Director, PT. RAPP, said, “We realise that preventing forest and land fires cannot succeed without the support of all stakeholders, especially the community. We invite all of the stakeholders to work together to prevent these problems from happening.”

APRIL is not alone who is embracing this initiative. Member companies of the Fire Free Alliance (“FFA“) have also adopted elements of the programme. The FFA is a voluntary multi-stakeholder group made up primarily of forestry and agriculture companies with NGOs and other concerned collaborators and partners, who are committed to resolving Indonesia’s persistent fire and haze problems arising from forest and land burning.  The current members of the FFA are APRIL Group, Asian Agri, IOI, Musim Mas, Sime Darby, Wilmar International Limited, IDH and PM Haze.

Since 1993, APRIL has operated a strict ‘No Burn’ policy and continues to adhere to the Indonesian Government’s legal requirement to address the risks posed by fires. APRIL’s integrated approach to reducing the risk of forest fires continues to be based on four key elements, namely fire prevention, preparation, suppression, and recovery.

About APRIL Group

APRIL Group is a leading producer of fibre, pulp and paper with plantations and manufacturing operations in Riau Province, Indonesia. We are committed to sustainability in our business and in the broader landscapes where we operate. Under our production-protection model, we adopted a unique 1-for-1 goal where we aim to conserve one hectare of forest for every hectare of plantation, and currently conserve and restore about 360,000 hectares of forests, including the largest peatland restoration project in Indonesia. For more information, visit www.aprilasia.com and follow Twitter @aprilpulp

SOURCE RGE group of companies

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