Pangkalan Kerinci – April Group has ramped up its community engagement activities in response to the increasing number of fire hotspots in Riau during the current fire danger period.
The company has modified its community-based Fire Free Village Program to include more ground and air patrols and is collaborating with national and provincial disaster response agencies by sharing its fire suppression resources.
April is also distributing 50,000 face masks to villages threatened by fires as part of a targeted public awareness campaign which emphasizes the importance of fire prevention.
April's Fire Free Village Program has involved 77 villages in the province of Riau to date. The fire prevention program focuses on education, capacity building and no burn incentives.
The program has been implemented on 622,112 hectares of land in the area. So far it has resulted in more than a 90 percent reduction in burnt areas in partnership with village communities.
Last month, April added nine new villages and a supply partner, Sumatera Riang Lestari, to the program, which has been scaled up across Indonesia and Malaysia through the multi-stakeholder Fire Free Alliance.
"Our fire prevention programs have been successful in driving long-term behavior changes in many communities but the risk of fire during critical danger periods remains a serious one," said Craig Tribolet, April Group's sustainability operations manager.
"We are ramping up our engagement with communities in Riau, providing fire suppression equipment and reinforcing our no burn message, and putting all our fire detection and suppression resources behind national and provincial efforts. This involves checking all hotspots recorded in the areas surrounding our forestry concessions and scrambling our fire suppression teams quickly when fires are detected," Craig said.
April's Rapid Response Team has a total of 920 members, including 260 professional firefighters, and provides firefighting training for 724 volunteers across 39 villages in Riau.
The company has invested more than $9 million in fire suppression resources, including two helicopters, two airboats and a network of 39 lookout towers across its concession areas.
April also operates a 24-hour Fire Hotline (+62 811 707 2121) that allows people to report fires occurring within or near its concession areas.