Fire Free Alliance Collaborates with Industry and Civil Society to Advance Fire Prevention in Sumatra
Members of the Fire Free Alliance (FFA) boost efforts to support government-led fire prevention efforts in Sumatra, amid reports of increasing numbers of hot spots and related fires in the region.
Established in March 2016, the Fire Free Alliance is a voluntary multi-stakeholder group including forestry and agriculture companies and civil society organisations set up to address the persistent issue of fire and smoke haze arising from the burning of land in Indonesia. Members include Wilmar, Musim Mas, Asian Agri, IOI, Sime Darby, PM Haze, IDH, as well as APRIL, who all collaborate and share knowledge and information on fire prevention through community engagement as pioneered by APRIL’s Fire Free Village Program.
Recent efforts by FFA partners have significantly reduced the number of fires and impact of smoke haze on children, the elderly and other vulnerable members of the community. In its most recent annual report, the FFA highlighted an increase in the number of communities engaged in fire prevention activity from 416 in 2016 to 468 to date, and a 24 per cent rise in awareness raising activities by FFA partners.
At a fire season workshop held last month in Pekanbaru, Riau, FFA partners committed to the continued development of tools to assist in the implementation of fire prevention programs, as well as to increase training for personnel using Incident Command Systems, the international standard for fire incident response and management.
During the workshop, FFA partners were briefed by representatives from the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) and the National Meteorological Agency (BMKG) on the current dry phase caused by the Indian Ocean Dipole – an irregular oscillation of sea-surface temperatures originating in the Indian Ocean. This has been resulting in lower than normal rainfall in Riau Province during the dry season between July and September.
“Extended dry periods have traditionally been accompanied by an increase in burning for agricultural land clearance, said Craig Tribolet, Sustainability Operations Manager, APRIL Group and current Chairperson of the FFA. We’ve seen this reoccur in recent weeks, heightening the need for collective action.”
“In 2015, we were able to minimise the amount of land damaged by fire through education and capability building in villages with a history of burning. Through the sharing of knowledge and best practices in fire management and prevention, the FFA is able to extend this approach to other landscapes,” he added.
The recent Pekanbaru workshop is part of the FFA’s commitment to openly share knowledge and develop fire prevention capability across industries and among Government and non-government partners.
“As part of our landscape approach and to support the government’s program, we’re already involved in a number of fire management initiatives, such as the Fire Prevention Program we run in Jambi and West Kalimantan” said Fitrian Ardiansyah, Executive Chairman of Yayasan IDH (Inisiatif Dagang Hijau). “The value of the FFA is that it helps scale-up fire prevention programs on a regional basis and this is essential for addressing the outbreak of fires and hot spots in Indonesia”.
Another FFA partner, Musim Mas, runs its own dedicated Fire Free Village Program in Indonesia, known as Masyarakat Bebas Api. Since 2016, the company has signed agreements with 71 villages covering approximately 500,000 hectares, about twice the size of the company’s concession areas.
“Like other companies in the FFA, we work to promote awareness among communities of the negative impacts of using fire, and of alternative methods of clearing fire. We believe that FFA has a crucial role to play in supporting fire prevention, in terms of sharing resources and best practices between the public and private sectors, especially at the present time,” said Olivier Tichit, Director of Sustainable Supply Chain, Musim Mas.
At the workshop, the members were joined by executives from FIREGROUND, an Australian consultancy which provides planning and training services on Fire Prevention and Emergency Management, which provided an overview of best practices for Incident Command Systems.
“We train APRIL’s teams in emergency response management and procedures, and now welcome the opportunity to share updates on best practices with FFA partners,” said Dave Hitchcock, CEO of FIREGROUND. “It’s only by sharing knowledge and expertise that the different public and private sector actors will be able to achieve lasting solutions to the fire and haze situation in Riau and Sumatra.”
Fire prevention is widely recognised as the most effective solution for reducing the impact of landscape fires, said APRIL’s Craig Tribolet. “But fire prevention is part of a broader fire management framework, which includes preparation, suppression and recovery. Ultimately, we’re looking to coordinate activities with other FFA partners, so we can effectively support the Government’s fire relief initiatives in Sumatra and in other parts of Indonesia.”
Companies or organisations who would like further information, including information about joining the FFA, should contact Mr. Craig Tribolet (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the website (http://www.firefreealliance.org/).