masthead sustainability fire


Responsible forestry is key to our operations

Fire Management

Fires are a major threat to our plantations, our business' key asset. Fires damage forests, reducing the value and productivity of these assets, as well as creating smoke and haze. Wildfires can also have a significant environmental impact; reducing soil nutrients, impacting water quality and increasing risk of soil erosion, all of which affect sustainable plantation management. It makes commercial sense for APRIL Group to enforce a zero tolerance approach towards burning of forests. 

We do not purchase wood from suppliers who engage in illegal burning. Our supply partners are required to submit relevant permits to ensure the legality of their harvested timber, and comply with our no-burn practices. If they breach any of our policies, we undertake investigations and take immediate corrective action. 

Fire Awareness Training

Fire Prevention: Good Fire Management Starts With The Prevention Of Fires

We recognise that investment in fire prevention through education and capability building is more effective than having a world-class suppression capability. Given that the vast majority of fires are result of burning by neighbouring communities, engagement at the village level is a critical part of minimising risk; posed by fires. We cooperate with government authorities on a range of community and education-based prevention initiatives to ensure that fires are not started within our concessions and take all necessary precautions to ensure fires are prevented.

APRIL Group firmly believes in being part of the solution to forest fires and has invested significantly into fire prevention and fire suppression at an operational and community level, including:

  • Education programs
  • Working with local communities
  • Training and resourcing village fire teams
  • Forest and village signage
  • Awareness regarding slash and burn techniques
  • Community based incentive programmes
Fire Free Village Program

Established in July 2015, the Fire Free Village Program (FFVP) is a fire prevention project in Riau, Indonesia, founded in close collaboration with local communities and in partnership with NGOs, the government, police, military and Riau’s Disaster Mitigation Agency, to address the underlying causes of fires through a process of socialisation, education and increased awareness of the negative impacts of burning. The FFVP has five elements:

  • No Burn Village Rewards: Incentivising villages to abandon traditional agricultural methods that employ fire as a land clearance and preparation tool, by awarding funding to community infrastructure projects for communities that do not burn on land areas within their control.
  • Village Crew Leader: Recruiting individuals from local communities as APRIL contractors to act as fire prevention advocates and fire suppression specialists at the village level. This role covers fire monitoring, reporting and sharing the knowledge/training provided to them by APRIL.
  • Agricultural Assistance: This involves providing help to adopt a range of sustainable agricultural alternatives, including the use of mechanical land clearing tools and No Burn methods, for land management activities. This has also included assistance in the form of education, equipment, funding and labour.
  • Community Fire Awareness: Raising awareness of the dangers of land clearing by fire, and the negative impact on community health. Overlapping with the FAC program, this aims to achieve longer-term socialisation and changes in attitude/behaviour.
  • Air Quality Monitoring: Installation in 2016 of seven <PM10 detectors, to regularly monitor air quality in the Riau area in and around the APRIL concession areas.
Fire Detection: Rigorous detection and early warning system

During the biannual fire season we operate regular land, air and water patrols with fire crews on standby.

Every day, fire teams monitor daily weather at 23 locations across the province and calculate a Fire Danger rating based on days since rain, amount of rainfall, humidity and fuel (vegetation) moisture.

Fire teams from the 23 estates also patrol APRIL Group concession areas, monitoring the landscape for fires as well as other unauthorised activities, like illegal logging. These fire teams are physically fit and are prepared to respond immediately to any fire within APRIL Group concession areas.

Fire Suppression: Rapid response and aggressive suppression

Fires can be difficult to control, particularly on peatland. We have developed a world-class suppression capability that includes helicopters equipped with expert fire crews, water bombing, fire trucks, airboats as well as teams on the ground that can be rapidly deployed to contain and extinguish fires when detected.

APRIL Group collaborates with government agencies in fighting fires near our concessions. In July 2014, APRIL Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help government combat forest fires. In support of the Riau Province Disaster Mitigation Agency, APRIL Group provides equipment such as the use of a company helicopter and water pumps, as well firefighting training for 630 volunteers across 39 Riau villages.

  • More than US$6 million invested in fire equipment
  • Helicopter and 2 airboats on standby for water-bombing
  • Annual operating cost of core fire team of more than US$ 2 million
  • Average of US$ 1-2 million spent on purchasing replacement hoses and pumps each year
  • 39 Lookout towers
  • 215 water pumps committed to firefighting efforts
  • 700 Rapid Response Team members, including
  • 260 trained fire fighters, 22 community-based fire prevention and control groups
  • 39 community-based fire prevention and control groups, 630 members
  • 31 Fire Alert Communities in 5 regencies in Riau Province
Fire Free Alliance

The Fire Free Alliance (FFA) is a voluntary multi-stakeholder group made up primarily of forestry and agriculture companies with NGOs and other concerned collaborators and partners. It comprises APRIL, Asian Agri, IOI, Musim Mas, Sime Darby, Wilmar, IDH and PM Haze. FFA members commit to resolving Indonesia’s persistent fires and haze problems arising from forest and land burning and actively collaborate to share information, knowledge and resources as part of a collective effort to achieve lasting solutions.

Members of the FFA reported improvements in fire prevention efforts, highlighted by an increase in the number of communities engaged in fire prevention activities, from 416 in 2016 to 468 in 2017, and a 24 per cent rise in awareness raising activities by members. These accomplishments were highlighted in a published report on the efforts of its members to prevent the recurrence of fire and haze across Southeast Asia during 2017.

FFA members continued to evolve their programs in 2018, focusing on the implementation of six Fire Free Village Program elements: fire prevention and monitoring, supporting community development, no-burn village reward, providing mechanical site preparation, raising awareness and training and haze monitoring.