Jakarta. The Fire Free Alliance, a voluntary multi-stakeholder platform to aid in the resolution of land and forest fires in Indonesia, has welcomed aboard Malaysian corporations Sime Darby and IOI Group, thus further extending the reach of their program across Indonesia and Malaysia.
FFA, which was launched on Feb. 29, 2016, involves leading forestry and agriculture companies and NGOs. Key corporations and business groups supporting the platform include Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited, known as APRIL, which is a global pulp and paper company, and palm oil conglomerates Musim Mas group, Wilmar group and Asian Agri.
Among the founding members are also a Netherlands-based NGO, the Initiatief Duurzame Handel (IDH) and People's Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze), an advocacy organization that gather support of Singaporean citizens to help stop haze in Indonesia.
Announcement of the new corporate members, Sime Darby and IOI Group, which are conglomerations with plantation assets in Indonesia, was made during the so-called "Responsible Business Forum" held in Jakarta on Wednesday (15/03).
"The FFA was established to help members share knowledge and resources. It serves as a platform for members to help one another develop the most effective strategies to prevent and manage fire risks through long-term partnerships with communities across Indonesia and Malaysia," said Dorjee Sun, director of Carbon Conservation — FFA's secretariat.
FFA has enlisted more than 200 villages, covering at least 1.5 million hectares in various parts of Indonesia. The villages have been participating in community-based fire prevention initiatives.
FFA members have reported a decrease in fire incidents past year of between 50 percent and 90 percent, depending on the regions. The pioneer initiative in community-based fire prevention was APRIL's Fire-Free Village Program (FFVP) launched in 2015 in nine villages.
"APRIL recognizes the lead role that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs as well provincial government has in fire prevention and fire management in Indonesia," forest protection manager at APRIL, Craig Tribolet, said in a joint statement by FFA members.
"We supported the establishment of the Fire Free Alliance because we believe that the forestry and agricultural sectors have a responsibility that extends beyond our concession boundaries and work in partnership with communities to reduce the impact of fires and smoke haze. The FFA provides a platform to help scale the FFVP and enable other companies and NGOs to collaborate and share best practice," he said.
"The issue of fire and haze is bigger than the industry. FFA's strength stems from its collective breadth of expertise and experience amongst members from different sectors in their work with the local communities in their surrounding areas. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to working with communities, but the candid sharing amongst committed and like-minded FFA members helps with identification and development of innovative solutions that could be adapted to each member’s respective operating landscapes," said Gurcharan Singh, Wilmar's plantation head for Indonesia.
"The Fire Free Alliance provides a strong and clear commitment by member companies towards preventing forest fires now and in the future," IDH's Tony Wood said.
Benjamin Tay, president of PM.Haze said that with the presence of palm oil giants Sime Darby and IOI Group, the FFA will see the impacts of its program widened, not just in the area of coverage, as the companies expressed their commitment to deploy resources to fight against wildfires.
"I congratulate the FFA on the expansion of its fire prevention outreach efforts. The inclusion of new members like Sime Darby validates the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach to solving the haze problem from the source. We hope that we can continue to support the fire prevention efforts of agri-businesses and advocate for the consumption of haze-free products," he said.