Mongabay Features

Plantation companies in Indonesia struggle to combat fires

With political pressure mounting on plantation companies, including threats of fines and legal action by the Indonesian and Singaporean governments and boycotts in consumer countries, palm oil and timber giants in Indonesia are embracing an array of tactics to battle haze-spewing blazes burning across the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, according to’s informal survey of six major companies.

Responses from Asia Pulp & Paper, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), Golden Agri Resources (GAR), Cargill, Wilmar, and Musim Mas indicate that several companies have adopted systems for monitoring fires within their concessions and supplier concessions, including ground and helicopter patrols, utilization of drones and cameras, and use of satellite data including Global Forest Watch, a platform that provides regular updates on potential hotspots, wind patterns, and forest cover. Those systems are helping companies concentrate fire-fighting and fire-prevention efforts, sometimes in concert with local and federal governments.


By Rhett Ayers Butler

Rhett Ayers Butler is the Founder and CEO of Mongabay, a non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. He started Mongabay in 1999 with the mission of raising interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife.