Jakarta. Back in 2016, the persistent haze issue prompted a number of private sector companies and non-government organizations to form an alliance to identify effective strategies to prevent forest fires. The Fire-Free Alliance (FFA) has collaborated regularly since then to share information and resources to address fire and haze problems in Indonesia and in the wider Southeast Asia region.
The FFA has recently begun working with sustainability engagement firm Partnership ID to scope out the future operations of the Alliance. Partnership-ID has held a number of technical workshops and scoping exercises with FFA members to help determine how best to maximize the value and impact of the group.
"What the FFA does is share best practices in forest fire prevention,” Partnership-ID founder and chief executive officer Yanti Triwadiantini told a recent virtual discussion.
“The FFA empowers communities to help prevent forest fires. It is not only limited to sharing forecasts or experiences, but also to facilitate technical handling of fire prevention actions on the ground and mobilizing resources.”
In the coming months, Partnership-ID will advise the FFA members on the development of a future roadmap for the group’s operations through a series of workshops.
"The FFA members may be able to consider joint programs, such as the development of an app to help share information, amongst others. Or they can choose to work on technical activities on the ground, whether this is fire forecasting or prevention, or any other initiative that FFA members can collaborate on for the longer term,” Yanti said.
The FFA is made up primarily of forestry and agriculture companies, such as pulp and paper producer APRIL Group, along with NGOs and other partners. But there is still room for the FFA to expand, especially considering its collaborative approach to prevent and combat forest fires.
"The FFA can further develop as a multi-stakeholder forum with universities, expert groups, and community leaders coming in," she said.
According to Yanti, the further development of the FFA as a multi-stakeholder forum would help the alliance forge cooperation with other stakeholders.
Forest fires are caused by various sources, including the slash-and-burn practices which are still practiced by villagers either on their own initiative or their land owners’ instruction (including companies).
“Unfortunately, it is the companies that are doing the right things to prevent forest fires that have fingers pointed at them. That is why we need to include other business and community stakeholders in our discussions to address any misunderstandings,” Yanti said.
The current members of the FFA are APRIL Group, Asian Agri, IOI, Musim Mas, Sime Darby, Wilmar International Limited, IDH and PM Haze. Programs run by FFA members in recent years have significantly reduced the number of fires and the impact of smoke haze on children, the elderly and other vulnerable members of society.
Since its inception, more than 200 villages, covering at least 1.5 million ha of land in various parts of Indonesia, have participated in community-based fire prevention initiatives through the FFA.