Three factors key to success of Indonesian peat restoration

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - Indonesian peat restoration efforts being carried out in peatland areas burned by the massive land and forest fires in 2015 face a range of complex issues and challenges.

Three factors, which will determine in a technical sense the level of success of peat restoration, require immediate attention of the Indonesian peat restoration agency. These are the establishment of criteria pertaining to the peatland damage, the mapping of peatland restoration areas and actions related to unpredictable weather.

"The first two factors need to be looked at and acted on immediately, while the third factor must also be kept in mind with a view to taking serious anticipatory measures," said Nyoman Suryadiputra, Director of Wetlands International Indonesia Programme on Tuesday (Feb 16) in Jakarta.

This was in response to a question from foresthints.news concerning which important factors should be of most concern to and prioritized by the peat agency, which was formed by President Joko Widodo in early January 2016.

Nyoman explained that the issue of peatland in Indonesia was a wide ranging one, and not just related to the two million hectares of peatland due for restoration by the peat agency.

"More than 20 million hectares of peatland in Indonesia, roughly 50% of which has already been drained, in particular by the palm oil and pulp industry sectors. As such, the mapping of peatland restoration areas needs to be prioritized in the four priority regencies. The target of restoring at least two million hectares of burned peatland is fairly realistic as long as the three factors receive the utmost attention in terms of the peat agency's programs, " said Nyoman.

"These three factors need to be looked as part of one hydrological peat unit system, which also takes into account landcover analysis. Subsequently, an inventory of this landcover needs to be made. After that, a protection and cultivation zoning map must be released," he added.

To strengthen legal consistency, he recommended, a number of laws and regulations related to the protection of peatland need to be aligned with each other.

"Lets avoid having any laws and regulations that weaken peatland protection or are inconsistent in their objectives," he stressed.

Nyoman went on to say that the licenses for all concessions located in peatland areas that have been designated as protected zones must be inventoried, and the holders of these concessions need to be involved in peatland restoration efforts in these areas.

For all these reasons, Nyoman requested the following: "get to work quickly, and once at work all the deputies of the peat agency must work together and work in union because we have to deal with unpredictable weather".

"It's difficult for me to say how optimistic I am about the restoration of burned peatland that is to be done by the peat agency. My level of optimism is largely dependent on the three factors," Nyoman concluded.