In 2019, around 75 thousand hectares of land in total were severely ravaged by the wildfires, or significantly increased in comparison to the conditions in 2017 and 2018. The Riau provincial government had forest fires from Feb to October 2019. According to the authorized agencies' reports, Riau suffered from wildfires that gutted 6,866 hectares of land in 2017 and 37,236 hectares of land in 2018.
From January to early August 2020, The Riau Province Forest and Land Fire Task Force recorded around 1,381 hectares burned. Riau is also the first province in Indonesia to set an alert status since February 6, 2020 and will last until October 31, 2020.
Head of Riau disaster mitigation agency, Edwar Sanger stated that compared to last year, burned land in Riau has decreased significantly by around 29%. Edward said this is because of local governments and companies partnership such as APP Sinar Mas. Edward, who also served as Riau Forest and Land fire Task Force deputy, praised APP for their active roles in preventing fires, not only providing the equipment and quick reaction team, but also empower the villagers in and around the concession area through the DMPA program.
"We continue to need help from companies such as APP. They help with equipment such as fire engines, helicopters and fire personnel to tackle the forest fire in Riau" Edward explained further during Riau preparation before dry season webinar on Tuesday (4/8).
Director of the Indonesian Forest Entrepreneurs Association, Purwadi Soeprihatno stated that currently companies are not only focusing on their concession, but it goes wider up to 5 kilometers radius out of concession. Purwadi stated that APP as one of their members has installed monitoring cameras that are able to monitor up to 12 kilometers.
“Economic and social issues need to be solved as well in our effort to tackle the forest and land fires. That is why programs like DMPA are very important to help reduce slash and burn activities among the villagers. We want to empower the community, providing them with education and assistance so they could have a better future” he explained.