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April Group Announces Fire Danger Period in Its Concession Areas From July 1 to Sept. 30

JAKARTA (From news reports) -- Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings, one of the biggest producers of pulp and paper in Indonesia, announced that a fire danger period will apply at all its concession areas in Riau province from July 1 to Sept. 30.

The company, better known as the April Group, operates a 1,750-hectare manufacturing complex in Kerinci, Riau.

The company said the declaration is part of its integrated landscape approach to fire management, and reflects its commitment to work collaboratively with government agencies, other concession holders and communities to not use fire for land clearing during the dry season.

"Our key focus is to raise awareness and prevent fires from starting," April Group president Praveen Singhavi said in the statement. "We consider this strategy more effective than trying to extinguish fires once they've started."

In January, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo held a special coordination meeting with all related ministries and law enforcement agencies to ensure early detection, increased alertness levels and strict enforcement to prevent fires in risk areas such as Riau, West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and Papua.

For the April Group, the fire danger period will serve to raise alertness levels among its staff and local communities in Riau, to stay vigilant against fire risks in surrounding areas, due to a hot and dry weather expected during the annual dry season.

This means that fire restrictions will be in force in April's managed forest areas.

"Notice boards, village meetings and other communication tools will be used to inform communities of the fire danger period," the company said in the statement.

"Nearly 80 percent of fires we attended to in the past 12 months were related to land preparation by small land holders. We need to work closely with neighboring communities and law enforcement agencies to ensure we all understand the risks and impact of land and forest fires," Craig Tribolet, strategic fire and protection manager at April, said in the statement.

The April Group said fire prevention is a key focus of its integrated landscape fire management.

The company has pioneered the community-focused fire-free village, fire-free landscape initiative to develop local communities' knowledge, capabilities and resilience in fire management.

Under this program, local communities are provided with tools and information aimed at improving understanding of fire management and increasing access to alternative sustainable farming systems - both critical to making better decisions on land-use management and achieving a fire-free landscape.

To ensure high effectivity for immediate suppression of all fires on or near April's concession areas, the company will increase ground and air patrols by fire crews and work actively with local communities on fire prevention during the fire danger period.

To date, April has invested more than $6 million in specialized fire teams and firefighting equipment as well as training 600 firefighters.

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