Jakarta, 8 October 2019 –Forest and land fires (Karhutla) keep occurring in Indonesia. Data from the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) recorded that from January to August 2019 the burned area of ??forest and land throughout Indonesia reached 328,724 hectares. While in 2019, the worst affected area of ??forest and land fires in Indonesia is Riau province according to figures, while Riau BPBD recorded that the burned area in Riau reached 50,730 hectares, with the number of hotspots reaching around 8,168 points, with 72% of which occurred in peatland areas.

Siak District, like several other regions in Riau Province also experienced a forest fire incident. The number of hotspots in Siak District in 2019 reached 493 points. But in terms of hotspot presentation, Siak district was one of the lowest in Riau Province, which was only around 6%. Siak District is a district with the largest peatland on the island of Sumatra. More than half or 57% of the Siak District area is peatland, which covers an area of ??479,485 ha. Of the total peat area, 21% of them are deep peat, with a depth of 3-12 meters.

Regent of Siak Alferdi, revealed that the low percentage of hotspots was the result of efforts to prevent forest and land fires in Siak District, which are pursued year after year. These efforts are not only in the form of local government work, but also involve the community, development partners and district governments, community organizations, as well as the private sectors. Integrated planning is needed to prevent forest and land fires (karhutla), especially in peat ecosystems, because it cannot be done partially.

After the massive forest and land fires in 2015, Siak District began to do a change by first making the Siak Hijau District Road Map in 2016. In collaboration with community organizations incorporated in Saudagho Siak, they analyzed what causes forest and land fires, reviewed and developed regional regulations to prevent and overcome forest and land fires. In 2017, Siak District invited the private sector and small entrepreneurs to implement Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) for sustainable management of palm oil plantations.

In 2018 the Siak District Government issued Regent Decree No. 22/2018 about the Green Siak Initiative. This initiative includes zoning arrangements for spatial conservation, agriculture, plantation, industrial and residential areas. The Siak Hijau Regulation serves as a guideline for the Siak district government, the community, as well as the private sector in carrying out sustainable management of natural resources, for the welfare of the Siak people.

"The Siak Hijau Regulation is our commitment in Siak District, to conduct a sustainable management of natural resources, as well as an important effort for us to prevent and handle forest and land fires. We have also not allowed logging of natural wood, and no longer open the oil palm plantation concessions. At present we are developing the Land of Agrarian Reform Object (TORA). Intensifying the agricultural commodities in peatlands such as Sago, Mahang Wood and also Aren, "said Regent Alferdi.

Developing the TORA area as an effort to prevent fires, especially on peatlands, was also conveyed by the Head of the Peat Restoration Agency, Nazir Foead. "In addition to efforts to continue to maintain water levels, the key to preventing peatland fires is to ensure that TORA lands remain productive. Because if it provides economic benefits, the community will automatically maintain the land and understand the importance of agriculture and plantations on peatlands without draining peatlands, " Said Nazir.

While Susanto Kurniawan from the Siak District development partner, Saudagho Siak, revealed that the District has long had many policies that can be encouraged to be transmitted to other regions in Riau and Indonesia. Saudagho Siak which means "Friends of Siak" is a consortium of 21 institutions that have shared a commitment to support Green Siak since 2017.

 "The 2018 Regent Regulation is a common reference those who are involved in sustainable development in Siak District. Many steps are taken to support the Siak Hijau initiative, such as encouraging districts to manage forests and peatlands, encouraging social forestry, building peat-friendly demonstration plots. Besides that, the development of ecotourism is also encouraged. It is hoped that economic activities can support the prevention of forest and land fire directly by the community.

The Siak Hijau initiative is also supported by several companies which are members of CORE (private sector alliance in Siak), including Unilever, Musim Mas, Cargil, Pepsico, Neste and Danone. Support from these companies is demonstrated through their commitment to implement more effective NDPE (No Deforestation, Peat, and Exploitation), especially on 4 main topics: deforestation, peat restoration, support for planters and human rights.

Multi-stakeholder involvement seen from the discussion "Green District, The Effort Siak to Prevent Forest and Land Fires" in Jakarta, October 8, 2019, is expected to be the answer to forest and land fire prevention in the coming year. All parties agreed that the prevention of forest and land fires must be carried out simultaneously by all parties, as happened in Siak District.

Festival Kabupaten Lestari 2019 (Sustainable District Festival 2019)

Siak District is one of the members of the Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari (LTKL), which this year is the host of the Lestari District Festival on 10-13 October 2019. With the theme "Besamo Membelo Siak Towards Green Indonesia", Siak District will introduce closer to the vision of "Siak Hijau" to all elements of Siak society and development partners outside Siak District. The festival will bring the participants to meet with sustainable on-target innovations that can answer the district's challenges in implementing a sustainable vision, especially around restoration and conservation, intensification of land management, and disaster management related to land management.

In FKL 2019, participants will be invited to explore "Siak Hijau" through an educational field trip to Zamrud National Park and the Bunga Raya agro-tourism site. This trip will bring participants to get closer to Siak District through #WisataLestari. See firsthand how the implementation of the Regent Decree no 22/2018.

The Festival Kabupaten Lestari is a joint celebration event and a promotional event for LTKL district members and development partners for the development or progress in implementing the vision of a sustainable district. The festival is also a means to open and strengthen communication and cooperation between members and LTKL partners, as well as other parties involved in achieving the sustainable development.

"Through the Vision of Siak Hijau, and the implementation of the Festival Kabupaten Lestari, the hope for the future is for us to engage together in greater collaboration so that we can make more efforts to prevent forest and land fires, and carry out sustainable land management for the welfare of the community," said the Regent of Siak closing the discussion.