Launch Event Marks Commitment to a Fire-free 2017 in Riau Province
APRIL’S 2017 Fire Free Village Programme (FFVP), which spans over 70 villages or around 700,000 ha of community agricultural land in Riau, was officially launched on 16 May 2017. Attended by community, national and local government leaders, the ceremony was held in Pangkalan Kerinci, Riau Province, Sumatra.The launch event, which also featured the awarding of ‘no burn’ rewards, signals the approach of the annual July-to-October dry season in Riau Province and reflects the continued collaborative effort to encourage a fire-free landscape at community level.
Fifteen villages from the 2016 FFVP participants received ‘No Burn’ rewards that will go towards community infrastructure projects, ranging from mosque improvements to road and bridge developments. Eighteen village leaders signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) committing to the 2017 programme, witnessed by national and local government representatives.
This year’s programme comprises 18 villages, with 9 participating in Fire Free Village (FFV) from the nearby island of Pulau Padang, and 9 villages advancing to the Fire Resilient Communities (FRC) phase after having been part of the FFV for the past two years. A total of 50 villages are enlisted in the Fire Aware Community (FAC) phase that introduces key fire prevention messages to participants through activities such as Fire Aware Goes to the Movies and Fire Aware Goes to School.
Rudi Fajar, Director of PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), APRIL’s operational unit in Riau, reflected on the positive impact of FFVP since its initiation by APRIL in 2014 and praised the collaboration and support of local government, police, the military and Riau’s Disaster Mitigation Agency and NGOs. He also paid tribute to the role of village leaders in FFVP’s success.
“Today’s turnout and the growth of the programme demonstrate how it now belongs to the communities themselves. Theirs is a strong voice in support of a fire free landscape, and in establishing firm roots within communities.”
At the event in Pangkalan Kerinci, Head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Willem Rampangiley, congratulated villages that received awards for their success in preventing forest fires in their area. He stressed that early warning and fire monitoring systems, coupled with heightened public awareness, are crucial to prevent forest fires.
“We admire your preparation and appreciate that you have heeded the President’s (Joko Widodo) wishes to reduce forest fires,” Willem said. He also cited the importance of collaboration among government, communities and business. HM Harris, head of Pelalawan Regency, and Irwan Nasir from Teluk Meranti district, also stressed the need for collaboration.