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Data from the APRIL Group and the government showed that after the Fire-Free Village program was implemented, fire incidents were reduced by 90 percent in the participating villages compared to the 2014 figures.

 

Realizing the importance of this program, the company extended the program to cover 20 villages for this year. They are located in four districts of Riau province (Pelalawan, Siak, Kepulauan Meranti and Bangkalis). 

The APRIL Group will manage 18 villages, while two other villages will be handled by supply partners of RAPP.

Last Year's Review

Craig Tribolet, Strategic Fire and Protection Manager at Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL Group) said three villages (Kuala Panduk, Petodaan and Segamai) received full rewards, or Rp 100 million worth of donation given in the form of infrastructure development, for their success in preventing forest and land fires at their area.

Meanwhile, three villages (Pelalawan, Kuala Tolam, Teluk Binjai, received only half of the reward as they failed to prevent forest and land fire, but managed to limit the burned area below 2 hectares. The rest (Sering, Teluk Meranti, Pulau Muda) failed to get any rewards as they could not prevent forest and land fires at areas of lower than 2 hectares.

"The most influential element [for this program] is the crew leader. That is when we pay a local person from the local villages to become an advocate of good fire behavior," Tribolet said.

"He would go around [the village] every day. He is based on the village so he knows the community well. He would report back to the Kepala Desa, but will be trained and paid by us, and wearing our shirts," he said, adding this appointed person will talk to people, engage with farmers and ask them how they plan to clear up land for farming."

"They are incredibly powerful," said Tribolet.

When asked what are the causes for some villages receiving half and some didn't receive any rewards, Tribolet said there is a local regulation that allows the local community to burn up to two hectares of land, a trigger for some who are forced by depressing economic situations to clear up lands.

However he also unveiled other interesting findings, with regards to reasons of failures for the three villages to secure FFV awards.

"We sat down with the communities, in many situations the answer was external parties coming into the village area and burning. CIFOR have done academics works of some of the underlying causes of burning. One of the thing they alerted was the organization of burning ... it is not small individual players like people in the community, it s actually people from outside the communities who have the money and resources," said Tribolet.

 

Source: data from the APRIL Group

When asked whether external parties burn the land belongs to the community, he said, the land is not necessarily belong to the community.

"Often it is idle or unmanaged land, so for all intention purposes it looks like no-one manage the land," Tribolet said.

Still, when asked whether the failing village are still keen to pursue rewards from FFV program, Tribolet said they were "extremely" frustrated.

"Originally, I thought they were frustrated with us, but it turned out to become a positive move and constructive efforts later. There is one who is now working closely with the police and government," to prevent external agents burning some lands in their community, said Tribolet.

Outlook for 2016

For this year, the APRIL Group, in cooperation with other stakeholders --including the Forestry and Plantation Offices in Riau province, the Environmental Agency (BLH), the provincial disaster management agency (BPBD), the military, the National Police, and a number of non-government organizations like Rumah Pohon, Blue Green, Laskar Alam Riau-- will review the FFV.

 

The company and other stakeholders will sit in a committee to review whether the participating villages manage to keep their villages free from forest and land fires from July 1 to Oct. 31.

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