Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas through PT Arara Abadi collaborated with the Creative Journalists of Riau (JKR) to hold a webinar titled “Permanent Solution to Prevent (Mitigation) and Handle Karhutla in Riau” last Wednesday, June 15, 2022. This event was attended by the Head of Sub Directorate for the Prevention of Forest and Land Fires (Karhutla) Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), Anis Aliati, Head of Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPDB) Riau, M. Edy Afrizal, along with several stakeholders, namely the government, academics, journalists, and locals.
Risks of Karhutla in Riau Province
The solution for karhutla becomes one of the main agendas for Riau, especially in this dry season. Riau Province is known to have the widest peatlands in Sumatra Island, consisting of around 52 percent. In 2015, Riau was recorded to be the biggest contributor to burnt lands causing smog disasters.
Regional Coordinator of Manggala Agni KLHK Riau, Edwin Putra claimed that there are many factors behind karhutla. Natural factors, such as the dry season that increases weather temperature is inevitably linked to trigger karhutla. However, the responsibility also falls on human factor on many occasions, one of which is through clearing lands by burning. Thus, the prevention of karhutla cannot rely solely on the authority, but also the people’s awareness.
The Importance of a Permanent Solution: Preventing Karhutla
Considering the current situation and condition, KLHK prioritizes a permanent solution for karhutla should be approached through prevention efforts. The proposed strategies to prevent karhutla involves analytical approaches, operational controls, and landscape management.
“As an anticipatory step, LHK Ministry encourages local government with regions that are vulnerable to karhutla to increase prevention patrols. This could be done independently through an institution, as well as an integration through the involvement of all parties including locals,” Anis stated in the webinar.
Active Contributions from APP Sinar Mas
Taking part in resolving karhutla, APP Sinar Mas through PT Arara Abadi actively supported the Government through community empowerment programs to clear lands without burning. The role of PT Arara Abadi has been felt by locals in Riau, one of which is through the partnership program of Desa Makmur Peduli Api (DMPA).
Herman (52) shared his story in this webinar as one of the farmers from Pinang Sebatang Barat Village, Siak Districts that has joined the DMPA program since 2018. “Back in 2015, before I worked with Arara Abadi, I cleared my lands by burning. At the time, I was not aware of the rules, as long as I can plant palm trees,” Herman admitted.
Through the DMPA program, Herman and other farmers were introduced to various ways to clear lands without burning. In addition, this program also trained local farmers to become successful horticulture farmers as well as for their economic prospects.
Aside from the DMPA program, PT Arara Abadi has also actively participated in handling karhutla in Riau by providing advanced facilities. Water Bombing Helicopter is one of the many contributions from the company to solve karhutla cases in Riau.
The initiative from APP Sinar Mas in overcoming karhutla in this month is not limited to programs in Riau, but also to various regions in Indonesia. In South Sumatra, APP Sinar Mas together with its supplier partners in Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI), PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, PT Bumi Andalas Permai, and PT SBA Wood Industries held Apel Siaga.
Apel Siaga is a regular activity done by APP Sinar Mas to assess the preparations regarding karhutla countermeasures. The Apel Siaga were joined by personnel from hundreds of Firefighters Team (RPK) and Rapid Reaction Team (TRC) along with fire transportation facilities and fire-fighting equipment.