Indonesia is the home to more than twenty million hectares of peat-land and swamp, distributed in three major islands of Sumatera, Kalimantan, and Papua. Indonesia has the largest tropical peat swamp in the world. The areas are covered with mixed forests, secondary forests of logged over areas, shrubs, seagrass, marsh grass, mangroves as well as heavily degraded peat-lands. Degraded peat lands on Sumatera and Kalimantan alone span over three million hectares. More than seventy percent of the peat land in Sumatera and Kalimantan are developed on mineral soils layers which are located below the current sea level and when drained will be lost to flooding due to subsidence – the gradual sinking of the peat-land.
Peat swamp forest ecosystem plays a very important role in maintaining ecological balance. Peat-lands are important for hydrological control, biodiversity conservation; they are reserves for farming areas and an alternative source of energy. In the context of climate change, peat can be both as a massive carbon sink and source, which makes this ecosystem pivotal for global carbon storage.
The periphery of Indonesia’s peat-lands has long been traditionally used for agriculture by traditional communities with negligible environmental impact. Traditional communities lived on the river levees where the peat is shallow, minimizing the need for drainage. However, along with population increase and its demand for rapid economic expansion, peat-lands have been massively used for timber and oil palm plantations. This trend started in the early 90’s promoted exotic varieties of trees that required deep and large-scale drainage of peat-lands for their cultivation. In addition, efforts to ramp up food crop production required the digging of many canals both for water regulation and extraction of harvested product. All of this resulted in the serious degradation of peat-lands and swamps we witness today.
Degraded peat-lands and swamps are prone to fire; and peat fires are the origin of a significant increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions from land sector in Indonesia. Recurrent peat fires, particularly severe in 2015, cause massive socio-economic damages and environmental deterioration in Indonesia, and trans-boundary haze triggering unnecessary tensions with neighboring countries. This situation requires a fundamental transformation of how peat-lands are managed, in their multiple dimensions, locally, nationally, and globally. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry, on behalf of the Government of Indonesia, has committed to undertake policy reform that will change the management of peat ecosystem and restore degraded peat-lands, including the areas affected by this year’s fires.
Considering the inherent complexity in achieving sustainable peat-land management such sustainably managed peat-land can deliver multiple benefits as an economic source, in harmony with socio-cultural practices and keep an ecological balance. In the context of climate change mitigation, methodologies to estimate emissions from peat degradation add to the complexity. In light of this, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is organizing the International Experts Roundtable Discussion to identify a feasible scenario for sustainable management of peat-lands ecosystem as part of a long-term solution to Indonesia’s fire and haze problem to drive down emissions – under the REDD+ program. At the end of the event, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry will endorse an initial roadmap for long, medium and short-term actions.
To identify a pathway for a long-term solution to Indonesia’s fire and haze crisis and to shift toward sustainable utilization and management of Indonesia’s peat-lands and swamps through actions consistent with science and policies.
- Urgency of developing a long-term solution to Indonesia’s haze problem is reasserted;
- Delineation of the building blocks and key challenges to achieve, sustainable peat-land management that will minimize fires and haze;
- Scientific based, technology and good practices, are identified for peat-lands management, conservation and utilization, restoration of fire affected/degraded peat-lands;
- Roles and approaches for livelihood related to peat-lands are identified;
- Roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in sustainable peat-land management are clarified;
- Strategic partnerships to achieve sustainable peat-land management are identified;
- An initial roadmap for long, medium and short-term actions as part of the long-term solution for i) solving Indonesia’s haze problem; and ii) reducing emissions through sustainable peat-land management, is produced as input to a broader strategy to be presented at COP21 in Paris.
Dian (+62 8119893584), Hening (+ 62 81310360759)