Jakarta. A group of leading forestry and agriculture companies, NGOs and other partners announced on Friday (11/3) the formation of the Fire-Free Alliance, a voluntary, multi-stakeholder platform to aid in the resolution of land and forest fires in Indonesia.
Founding members include Asia Pacific Resources International (April), a producer of fiber, pulp and paper and its sister palm oil group of companies under the Asian Agri flag and two other group of palm oil companies under Musim Mas group and Wilmar group.
Sustainable trade initiatives include the International Trade and Development, People's Movement to Stop Haze, known as PM.Haze – a movement in Singapore by people who believe that everyone can help stop the haze – and non-government organization of Rumah Pohon.
"Forest and land fires have impacts to all aspects of life in Indonesia. FFA exists to help assure and to fight forest and land fires," said Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, during a keynote speech on Friday at the second day of the meeting of the General Assembly of the Tropical Forest Alliance in Jakarta. The meeting runs on March 10-11.
"The president has instructed the Indonesian Military [TNI] and the police to stay on alert over potential threats of forest and land fires. This is hard to control, but with better preparation, things will be better handled than last year," said the retired general, who served in the military for more than 30 years.
Luhut said this year, the government will work as optimum as possible to prevent forest and land fires.
"The government will announce as quickly as possible, should there be a potential of fires. For example, the one in Dumai [Riau], we have instructed the governor to act and extinguish the fire," he said.
Luhut acknowledged that last year, the government came up with many policies, but the impact in the field were minimum.
FFA said in a statement on Friday that its members have jointly committed to collaborate and share knowledge, information and potentially resources to roll out fire prevention initiatives based on April Group’s Fire Free Village Program (FFVP). They will also help enhance fire monitoring, detection and suppression.
Launched in 2015, the community-focused FFVP is a fire prevention initiative that seeks to educate, enable and empower villagers nearby fire-prone areas to fight fire and campaign against the use of fire for agricultural purposes.
According to April Group's data, the program achieved a 90 percent decline in fire incidence among participating villages, during what is considered the worst possible El Nino episode in Indonesia, compared to 2014.
"FFA members will adopt and implement the FFVP, sharing lessons and best practices on how partnerships and engagement with the communities can protect forests from the high risk of fires," FFA said in a statement, adding that the alliance's commitment help supports the Indonesian Government’s commitment to a "Haze Free Asean" by 2020.
“The FFA demonstrates how the private sector in partnership with civil society groups can advance the fire-free cause through voluntary action,” said Lucita Jasmin, April's director for sustainability and external affairs.
“Collaboration under the FFA umbrella will help expand a successful fire prevention strategy to the broader landscape.”
Petra Meekers, director of sustainable development at Musim Ma,s said the group believes the FFA "will be a valuable platform to exchange good practices and enhance Musim Mas’s existing firefighting plans.”