APP in high tech fire fight

As part of its commitment to combating forest destruction, paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) is now using an advance smart mapping technology to pre-emptively respond to fires damaging Indonesian plantation.

The technology – called Geographic Information System (GIS) – is the same software that is behind many of the world’s leading military and law enforcement agencies and smart cities.

According to APP, the mapping technology uses real-time data to identify the location of all forest fire hotspots within the last 24 hours, verify if they are from its concession zones and evaluate what actions need to be taken. In addition, the system also equips the firefighting team with actionable information that can help them pre-empt potential peatland fire.

Dr Asep Karsidi, GIS consultant for APP says, “Peatland is very delicate and prone to burning if the ground temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius. In order to maintain an appropriate level of soil moisture, it should not fall below 40 cm in depth – any lower can potentially start a forest fire.”

“By using soil moisture data from the Automatic Weather Station as an indicator, the GIS-based system visually represents this data on a dynamic mapping platform allowing our team to quickly identify areas which might potentially cause peatland fire.”

[Related: Asia Pulp and Paper: growing back trust]

APP says before it began using GIS software, forest fire data was obtained through multiple sources which resulted in delays and intensified peatland damage.

The technology investment makes part of APP’s wider sustainability pledge for zero deforestation which has seen the group turn over a new leaf in the past several years.

APP, alongside several other corporations was linked to a number of forest fire hotspots in Indonesia last year which led to extreme hazing across South East Asia.

The paper supplier was under fire after it was accused of intentionally burning peatland which resulted in the haze, and was instructed to take measures to extinguish the fires and develop solutions to prevent future blazes. 

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