The Palm Scribe

GAPKI Issues Guideline for Forest and Ground Fires Prevention and Control

forest fires

The Indonesian Association of Palm Oil Producers (GAPKI) in anticipation of the upcoming dry season, a season that in the past years has always been accompanied by widespread forest and ground fires, by issuing a Guideline for Forest and Ground Fires Prevention and Control for its members.

“In facing the 2020 dry season, all GAPKI members and other large plantations must prepare themselves so that they are able to detect, prevent and control fires in their plantations and more importantly prevent burning in and around its areas. Therefore there is a need for a Guideline for Forest and Ground Fire Prevention and control in the hope that such fires could be prevented in oil palm plantations areas as part of our commitment to safeguard a better environment,” GAPKI said in the guideline document.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Office (BMKG) has forecast the start of the dry seasons in Indonesia to gradually arrive between April and July 2020 and would peak in most areas around August 2020.

The forest and ground and fires that have annually hit Indonesia in the dry seasons, have burned millions of hectares of land and cost billion dollars in damages and loss. The fires sent a thick blanket of toxic smoke over the region, somethings also over neighboring countries, and caused extensive health and traffic hazards.

The guideline requires all GAPKI members to conduct identification and mapping of areas prone to fires in their respective region, so that these areas can become the focus of monitoring and patrolling.  All members also need to form a fire-fighting task force at each of its operational units and provide them with training, refresher courses in organizational matters, personnel and on their tasks and duties.

Member companies also need to ascertain the adequacy of the task force’s personnel, including from communities around their plantations, make an inventory and evaluate the presence of groups of farmers/communities/ village organization that are concerned with fire prevention and fighting as well as the knowledge and expertise in forest and ground fire control.

The companies must also prepare their own early warning system with all its equipment and a fire ranking system, including integrated patrols, monitoring from fire towers, drone and or thermal sensors CCTV cameras installed on fire towers. They are also required to prepare heavy machineries in anticipation of the need to build fire buffer zones or water canals.

Member companies were also expected to refresh its coordination network with fire- fighting units such as those of farmer groups, communities and villages, the Manggala Agni forces, the local and national disaster mitigation agencies, the local fire office and the fire-fighting task forces of other companies, the military and the police, village administration ect. They should also work with them in educating the public on fire prevention.

In case a report of a fire around the company concession is reported, the company is required to immediately verify the report, note the precise coordinate and report it to the authority.

If the fire is within the company plantation, action should be taken to isolate and control the fires and the efforts should be conducted by the company’s own task force. An investigation should also be immediately launched to ascertain where the initial fire started, If it had spread from outside the company’s concession, a report should immediately be filed to the local police, If the fire source was within the concession the investigation should determine those responsible and report it to the management

if the fire within the concession managed to be controlled but not outside of the concession, the task force should deploy half of its effective to help fire-fighting effort outside the concession,

After the fire is controlled the task force has to inventorize its actions and activities related to the fire and file a number of reports on the readiness of the company’s fire- fighting facilities and infrastructure, its personnel as well as the impact of the fires, in terms of area affected, the age of the crop and the chronology.

“Considering the magnitude of the impact of forest and ground fires on companies, surrounding communities and the state, this Guideline for Prevention and Control of Forest and Ground Forest for the 2020 dry season, must be implemented with discipline so that our plantations can be prevented from incidents of fires and that forest and ground fires could be minimized nationally,” GAPKI in its closing statement.

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