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As part of an effort to reduce forest fires and land burnings nearby its concession area, APRIL Group initiated a program called “Desa Bebas Api,” or Fire-Free Village Program (FFVP), which started from 2015, in which the pulp and paper company rewards villages for no-burning practices to clear land. But it is not the only thing matters in FFVP. 

First, it is needed to identify fire-prone areas, to pick the right villages to participate in the program, Craig Tribolet, Strategic Fire and Protection Manager at Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL Group) said.

"What we developed in early 2015 is landscape risk map, fire risk map," said Tribolet. 

He added that his team put a "bunch of elements" regarding fire risks and plug it into a so-called geographic information system (GIS) to produce a fire-risk map, as a starting point to show where extreme risks area are.

"We score the elements to show extreme high medium and low risks level. That was our first step to give a picture of where fires will likely to start ... We took that to a discussion with executives and said look we have extreme risks area here, we know what the cause of the fire are, and it requires a really thorough prevention program and engagement with the community," he said.

Tribolet said his team updates the fire-risk map for every six months. The map, he said is a strategic tool to determine which villages the APRIL Group is going to engage with. Taking a look at the landscape map, the group through its subsidiary PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper, picked nine villages to participate in its Fire Free Village Program. The villages are:

  1. Pelalawan
  2. Sering
  3. Kuala Tolam
  4. Kuala Panduk
  5. Petodaan
  6. Teluk Binjai
  7. Teluk Meranti
  8. Pulau Muda
  9. Segamai

 FFVP is developed based-on five philosophies, which are:

1. No Burn Village Rewards

The company will give rewards for the villages, which can keep fires out of their areas, in a form of infrastructure developments. The maximum reward is Rp 100,000 and even if the effort is not 100% successful, there is an opportunity to get half of the rewards, based on a review of their efforts made by an independent committee.

2. Sustainable Agricultural Assistance

The company will donate agriculture equipments to help the local community clear up farming land without involving any burning activities, as long as the legality of the land is clear.

3. Village Crew Leader

The company to empower a person from the village to serve as 'crew leader', or an appointed person, who will be actively campaigning no-burning awareness to the community, with help from the village head and local government institutions. The crew leader will gather and synergize all the efforts to prevent forest and land fires in his/her respected community.

4. Community Fire Awareness

The company is targeting to improve the public's awareness over the danger of forest and land fire and haze for health.

5. Air Quality (Haze) Monitoring

 The company develops an integrated haze monitoring system, based on data in the field as well as advanced equipments.  

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What is the result of FFVP so far? Read more in our next article.
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