APRIL launches online forest fire tracking service
Indonesian pulp-paper maker shares reports from daily patrols in Sumatra
JAKARTA, 3 MARCH, 2014 – APRIL Indonesia today introduced an online service to track forest fires in its concessions on the island of Sumatra. The announcement comes three weeks after Asia’s second-largest pulp and paper manufacturer warned of an early start to fire season in Indonesia and just days after a state of emergency was declared in Sumatra’s Riau Province.
“Forest fires cause haze which threatens the health of our employees and the public and put our plantations at risk,” said Kusnan Rahmin, President Director of APRIL’s Indonesian operations. “Like many others, we are a victim of the consequences of forest fires and therefore we want to minimize the risk. Better reporting can help.”
APRIL said it will post reports taken from daily on-the-scene inspection of its concessions in Riau Province. The reports are available through the company’s blog, APRIL Dialog, Fire Tracker page. They include:
- A map of active fires;
- The origin, cause and size of each blaze; and
- The status of firefighting efforts.
Accurate reporting is important because illicit burning is an annual phenomenon in heavily forested Sumatra. It’s the cheapest, most efficient way for farmers to clear land.
During Indonesia’s dry season – usually June through October – hundreds of illegal blazes are ignited. The fires produce dense haze which blankets Sumatra before spreading to nearby Malaysia and Singapore. APRIL said last month that the 2014 fire season had already begun due to dry weather conditions on the island. That was underscored last week when the Riau provincial government issued its fire and haze emergency declaration.
APRIL manages renewable acacia plantations in Sumatra which provide wood for its pulp and paper mill. To protect its plantations, the company imposes a strict ban on burning. Nevertheless, fires ignited in adjacent forests occasionally spread to APRIL land.
APRIL has deployed more than 400 firefighters already this season to combat blazes in or near its plantations. It is conducting daily ground and air surveillance and monitoring satellite imagery every evening to detect fire threats. “We’re making every effort to limit the effects of fires and we’ll commit all of the resources we can to this effort,” said Mr. Rahmin.
Despite APRIL’s industry stature, its plantations account for only about 2 percent of the agricultural/forest land in Riau Province. The company has said that public-private sector collaboration is required to address the annual fire outbreak.