Most companies in Riau not ready to tackle forest fires

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - Riau Provinces Forestry Department Chief Fadrizal Labay here on Monday revealed that only 22 of the 61 forestry companies in the area were ready to overcome land and forest fires.

The statement was made during a coordination meeting with several officials and representatives of companies to overcome forest and land fires.

The 61 companies comprised three Forest Management Rights (HPH) license holders and the rest are Manager Plantation Forests (HTI) license holders.

The local government is now awaiting a regulation from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry on the minimum standards of human resources and infrastructure for firefighters that could serve as a standard reference for the operating companies.

"We would also evaluate and verify the preparedness of the companies," Fadrizal affirmed.

The evaluation is conducted to ensure that the action plan on the prevention of land and forest fires is actually carried out by the companies.

One of the points is to restore insulation canals, which were built during the companies operations in Riau.

Based on data from the Riau Forestry Service, a total of 3,887 canals were made when the companies commenced their operations, and the government had only built 80 canals.

Fadrizal emphasized that the companies efforts are deemed necessary to prevent fires as most of the peatland areas in Riau were prone to fires.

"During the year, 1.8 thousand hotspots were observed in Riau, with nearly 24 percent recorded in Pelalawan, followed by Indragiri Hulu and Bengkalis," Fadrizal said.

Meanwhile, Head of the Environment Agency of Riau Yulwiriawati Moesa stated that the hotspots were detected in 39 companies in Riau in 2015.

"We have written to the companies to conduct evaluation and prevention efforts," Yulwiriawati remarked.(*)