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APP completes over 400 dams to check forest fires in Indonesia

ASIA Pulp & Paper (APP) said on Thursday that it has completed over 400 dams to block plantation perimeter canals in APP suppliers' concessions on peatland in Riau and South Sumatra, as part of efforts to provide a long term solution to check forest fires.

The dams have been designed to protect peat forests by raising the water level and starting the rewetting of peat to prevent forest fires. In total, APP and its pulpwood suppliers are planning to construct over 3,000 perimeter canal dams in Riau province, Sumatra, with construction expected to be completed by Q1 2016.

The perimeter canal blocking programme is a first step towards the implementation of wider buffer zones between forest and plantations in and around all APP suppliers' concessions, said the group. Buffer zones will allow near-natural water levels at the forest edge to be maintained, which is required for forest survival as well as for the reduction of peat loss, carbon emissions and fire risk.

Separately, the group said it has collected aerial data across 4.5 million hectares of peatland in Indonesia. The data is being analysed in phases, with a coastal peatland map of East Sumatra due to be completed in the first quarter of next year.

This is part of APP's Peatland Best Practices Management initiative which has been implemented for the past two years. The peatland best practice management results will be submitted to the Indonesian government and shared with businesses and local communities.