Fires still flare in Tesso Nilo forest

EoF News / 04 September 2006

Despite the officials in Riau claimed that hotspots detected by satellite has vanished, fires still occur inside Tesso Nilo forest on Monday as observed by WWF monitoring officer. The fires are currently set by the encroachers that occurred in coordinate point of South and East 101. 47. 40. 9 (see picture 1 ).

Inside Tesso Nilo forest, fires also occurred on Saturday (Sep.2) evening but immediately extinguished by PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) employees. The coordinate point of fire location is on S. 00. 06. 35. 1, E (see pictures 2 and picture 3 ).

In Tesso Nilo, several companies still hold HPH concession despite they have no activity any longer. According to data collected by WWF through Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis, 4,299 hectares of Tesso Nilo forest were raged by fires in August. 948 ha out of the number is burned forest located inside the National Park.

Widespread fires raged Tesso Nilo National Park in Riau has raised concern among conservationist groups. Tesso Nilo Community Forum, Jikalahari (Riau NGOs network for forest rescue), and WWF for Nature called on companies where fires occurred to hold responsibility. The provincial government is also urged to be consistent in seizing land raged by fires and bring the perpetrators to justice, a joint statement issued last week said.

As hotspots detected in Riau decreased significantly due to torrential rains, more officials pledge to take stern measure against forest and land fire perpetrators.

Data monitored by WWF-Indonesia’s GIS Unit disclosed that from 1 January to 28 August 2006there were 8,876 hotspots totally detected in Riau. Modis Web Fire Mapper-based monitoring also found that hotspots detected in Industrial Timber Plantation (HTI) concession are 3,077, and oil palm concession 2,651.

By associated pulp mill, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) contributed to 745 hotspots, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) 523 and unknown groups 1,759 and unidentified group 50. Fires mostly happened in peat soil as 5,137 hotspots detected and 3,739 inside non-peat soil.

There were 2,651 hotspots inside oil palm concessions during the period where by group, Rokan contributed 847, unknown groups 763, Astra 242, Asian Agri 91, PTPN V 133. Malaysian-based oil palm plantations that contained hotspots are Minamas Guthrie 61 and Banggaya 18.

By HTI concession, PT Arara Abadi (APP-affiliated) had 335 hotspots in its 17 sites, PT Perawang Sukses Perkasa Industri (APP) 194, PT Titian Tata Pelita (APRIL) 139, and RAPP Pelalawan (APRIL) 82 hotspots.

Chief of Indonesian Police General Sutanto said Monday before a parliament hearing that his side continues to hunt down culprits of forest fire occurred in several provinces in the country. “Those who are perpetrators of forest and land fires will be prosecuted to justice including companies that allegedly involved in such cases,” he said as quoted by Riau Pos as saying.

The authority said that some people still try to burn land and forest when the sun shines again. There should be continuous campaign to public to avoid open burning, said the Head of Riau Environmental Impact Management Agency, Khairul Zainal.

The Ministry of Environment said 697 companies alleged to set fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan forest and land during June – August 2006. Four out of 697 companies are Riau-based ones that are being probed. The ministry has seized the burned land for investigation and is not allowed to use in a bid “to revoke its economic motive behind the forest and land fires,” said Minister of Environment Rachmat Witoelar as quoted by Kompas daily as saying last week.

Previously, WALHI (Friends of Earth Indonesia) filed 178 companies as those alleged involved in forest and land fires in several provinces to Indonesian Police Headquarters (Polri). 43 out of 176 are Riau-based companies that should be responsible for fires happened in the province in recent months.

Some companies that listed by the NGO are PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper, PT Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper, PT Rokan Permai Timber, PT Mandau Abadi, PT Siak Raya Timber, PT Hutani Sola Lestari, PT Dexter Kencana Timber, PT Nanjak Makmur, PT Industries Et Forest Asiatique, PT Siberida Wana Sejahtera, PT Asian Agri, PT Astra Group, Bungaraya Plan SDN Berhad Malaysia, Klau River Enterprise SDN BHD Malaysia, Lumivest Resource SDN BHD Malaysia, Minamas/Gutherie, PT Duta Palma, PT Sinoraya Seraya, PT Gandaherah Hendana, PTPN V, PT Pulau Sambu Group, PT Surya Dumai Group, PT Wilmar Group and unidentifield groups.