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How to Manage Peatland in Indonesia

Updated: May 28, 2021

Hi all!

Time flies! It's already the last week of May. We will meet the summer season for the northern hemisphere and the winter season for the southern hemisphere. And for everyone in a non-subtropical country, welcome to the dry or rainy season!


Since I'm working on the LANDMARC project, I'm learning so many things. For example, I learn about forestry management, peatland management, including paludiculture, agroforestry practice, and soil carbon enhancement. They are new things for me as I graduated from both bachelor and master program in physics engineering and sustainable energy. Now, I want to write about Peatland Management in Indonesia.




If you ask about peatland management in Indonesia to everyone in this field, I'm sure that they will say about 3R. What is 3R?


If you read our previous blogs about carbon capture storage (https://www.su-re.co/post/what-is-ccs-u) and negative emission solution (https://www.su-re.co/post/su-re-co-venture-negative-emissions-technologies-and-practices-netps), you can get a big picture of land-based mitigation. Peatland management is one of the land-based mitigation practices. Before I write about 3R, let me write about peatland condition in Indonesia.


In Indonesia, peatland covers 20.6 million ha or 10.8% of the total land area. Peatland and forestry are the main sectors in national mitigation and adaptation program. Data from MOEF reported soaring figures in carbon emissions from peat fires and peat decomposition. Emissions peaked in 2015 due to extreme warming effects attributed to El Niño, wherein peatland fires and decomposition contributed to 802.87 million TCO2e and 359.52 million TCO2e, respectively (MOEF, 2020).


To address this problem, MOEF established the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) in 2016 to manage and facilitate peatland restoration in seven priority provinces, which makes up around 40% of the nation’s total land area: Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and Papua. Peatland restoration, which

includes three main activities, known as 3R (BRG, 2016).


So, 3R is the programs initiated by the government to do land-based mitigation in the peatland sector. 3R is Rewetting, Revegetation, and Revitalisation.



I will explain briefly about the three programs. I will continue to write about peatland management in my next post.


Rewetting

Rewetting is important to ensure the required standard of water level is constantly maintained. It aims to prevent excessive drainage (droughts), which can ultimately lead to fires; in the worst scenarios where fire occurs at the surface vegetation, as long as the bottom layer is wet, carbon-rich peat in the bottom would not catch fire.


Revegetation

Revegetation is the process of planting or replanting endemic vegetations in peatland area. Vegetations above peatland are the source of biomass that form peats. Peat formation is the result of the incomplete decomposition of accumulated vegetation biomass. Therefore, without vegetations, peat would not be formed.


Revitalisation

Revitalisation is a set of actions to ensure any economic activities performed on or around the peatland area are well-aligned with the peatland preservation. Many local farmers utilise peatland to plant commodity crops in many regions across Indonesia. The problem arises when farmers purposefully convert peatland into dry land (mineral land) to plant crops that can only thrive in mineral land. This conversion would usually lead to fires from overly drained peatland. So, sustainable peatland management to give economic and environmental benefits should be implemented.


If you have known, there is an agency or organisation in Indonesia to manage Indonesian peatland. It's Mangrove and Peatland Restoration Agency (BRGM) that was declared in 2020 - previously, it was BRG. Wetland in Indonesia will include peatland and mangrove. I learned about mangrove when I was in primary and high school since I was born and live in East Kalimantan, one of the peatland and mangrove locations. I only need to walk for 15-20 minutes to see the mangrove location near my home. So, I can imagine how good or bad the environment is if we cannot protect those environments.


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