PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper’s (RAPP) commemoration of the fourth year of the implementation of Fire-Free Village Program (FFVP) in Pangkalan Kerinci, Riau province, was marked recently by a success story regarding the prevention of forest and land fires through community engagement in the past four years.
The event, held on July 26, saw the FFVP presenting a number of achievements as one of the programs directly involving the community in an effort to prevent karhutla (forest and land fires).
Attending the event were Riau Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman and Deputy Governor Wan Thamrin Hasyim, the Riau Police Chief Insp. Gen. Nandang, the Military Resort 031 Wirabima commander, the Riau Air Base commander, the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head, the Pelalawan regent, the Meranti Islands regent, the Siak regent and PT RAPP president director Sihol P. Aritonang.
Initiated in 2014, the FFVP is a breakthrough program by PT RAPP to prevent karhutla by engaging and cultivating the awareness of people living in villages around the area of their concessions on the dangers and impacts of fire, in particular the use of slash-and-burn methods to open agricultural land.
“Since its implementation in 2014, through collaboration between all stakeholders, the FFVP has successfully raised the local community’s awareness. Besides supporting the government programs, the FFVP also has significantly reduced the number of karhutla in Riau, and as RAPP’s concrete commitment to support the 2018 Asian Games,” Sihol P. Aritonang said.
During the last four years of the FFVP’s implementation, PT RAPP has applied several approaches and collaborated with local stakeholders to effectively raise zero-fire awareness. Among other things, PT RAPP provided agricultural assistance to villagers, including tree seedlings, facilities and infrastructure such as provisional tractors, as well as educating them on alternative land-clearing methods.
PT RAPP also cooperated with local religious leaders such as the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the Religious Communications Forum and a number of non-governmental organizations and environment-concerned civil communities as partners, such as the Laskar Alam Foundation, Kelompok Pecinta Lingkungan (KPL) and Perkumpulan Tapak.
As a result, to date, the FFVP has continued to experience significant progress in terms of the number of participating villages in the program. In 2014, four villages were listed as participants. By 2015, the number of rural villages jumped to 18. Meanwhile, in 2017 and 2018 the program was followed by 18 villages and nine villages respectively. In total, 27 villages in five districts have been involved in this program since it was first initiated.
The success of other FFVPs is evident in the dramatically reduced number of fire incidents. By 2014, burned areas reached up to 0.18 percent of the total area covered. Meanwhile, in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the numbers fell to 0.01 percent, 0.07 percent and 0.03 percent respectively.
On this occasion, Arsyadjuliandi Rachman appreciated the effort of PT RAPP in suppressing the number of karhutla incidents in Riau and its impact to the local community. He also hoped that FFVP could continue and inspire other companies to adopt such a program and become a national initiative.
The FFVP is evidence of PT RAPP's concrete commitment that karhutla can effectively be prevented if all elements are involved in its implementation.
PT RAPP seeks to instill awareness of the dangers and impacts of fire in the local community, which is a form of long-term investment in creating an environment free from karhutla.