Fire ravaged forestry concessions not covered by LiDAR mapping

(foresthints.news) - In early March this year, the Indonesian peat restoration agency announced that it had completed LiDAR-based mapping in five peat hydrological units distributed in four peat restoration priority regencies over an area of 718,000 hectares, the equivalent of more than ten times the size of Singapore.

Peat Agency Chief Nazir Foead told a leading Indonesian daily newspaper (Mar 6) that the results of the LiDAR mapping would serve as reference material for the peat agency in providing input to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry with respect to the technical aspects of peat restoration in forestry concessions.

However, as it turns out, a letter from the ministry to the peat agency (Jun 12) shows that none of the forestry concessions afflicted by 2015’s peat fires are covered by the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping.

Even more ironically, not a single hectare of the pulpwood concessions under the control of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which are spread over two peat restoration priority regencies in South Sumatra province and were seriously affected by 2015’s peat fires, is covered by the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping.

Furthermore, only one of the estates owned by pulp and paper giant APRIL’s pulpwood company, located in Pulau Padang in Sumatra’s Riau province, is covered by the LiDAR mapping, as previously reported by foresthints.news (May 19).

This estate, however, is not a forestry concession seriously afflicted by 2015’s peat fires, according to the peat agency’s indicative targeted peat restoration map.

The following maps depict the locations of the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping in South Sumatra province. The mapping does not at all encompass APP’s pulpwood concessions - among those hardest hit by 2015’s peat fires.

Role neglected

The failure of the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping to cover forestry concessions seriously damaged by 2015’s peat fires means that the peat agency is unable to play any role whatsoever in giving any input based on LiDAR mapping to facilitate the revision process of the 10-year work plans of the pulpwood companies concerned.

What’s more, the inability of the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping to play any kind of role in providing input for the revision process of 10-year work plans extends to those pulpwood companies not affected by 2015’s peat fires, as pointed out in the ministry’s letter sent to the peat agency.

The following two photos are of the location of PT BAP, the APP pulpwood concession hardest hit as a result of 2015’s fires but which is not covered by the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping. The concession lies in South Sumatra’s OKI regency, one of the peat restoration priority regencies.

Unfulfilled promise

The fact that there are forestry concessions ravaged by 2015’s peat fires which are not covered by the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping certainly raises some very fundamental questions.

This means that the 99 pulpwood companies which are required to submit their revised 10-year work plans to the ministry in late June will unfortunately not have received any input from the peat agency based on their LiDAR mapping. In essence, the peat agency has failed to live up to its promise in this regard.  

It also means that of the 718,000 hectares included in the peat agency’s LiDAR mapping, no technical support based on LiDAR mapping will have been provided for the purpose of boosting peat restoration efforts in forestry concessions, most notably in South Sumatra’s two peat restoration priority regencies.

The peat agency’s LiDAR mapping, which has failed to cover badly-affected forestry concessions, is funded by the Norwegian government in collaboration with the World Resources Institute. The considerations as to why the LiDAR mapping does not cover these pulpwood concessions remain unclear.