Spotlight Issue: Peatland Restoration Agency Activities
The Peatland Restoration Agency has received international recognition of its efforts to reduce hotspots— places where fires are likely to erupt. Since 2015, before the agency was formed, the number of hotspots has decreased. NOAA satellite data reveals that the number of hotspots fell from 21,929 (2015) to 3,915 (2016) to 2,546 (2017); an overall 91% reduction between 2015 and 2017. This trend of reducing hotspots is also recorded by the TERRA NASA satellite. 128 thousand hectares of land burned in 2017, a significant decrease from the 2.6 million hectares of burned land in 2015. The decrease in hotspots can be attributed in part to construction of dams and canals by Badan Restorasi Gambut (BRG) to rewet land that has been drained for agriculture.
Status: Right Direction
On November 9th, I asked Dr. Safitri, a deputy at BRG presenting at a panel at COP-23, about the efforts of BRG to restore mangroves. Dr. Safitri stated that the agency does not specifically redevelop mangroves, but that there are some efforts to prevent degradation of mangroves. More needs to be done to regrow cleared mangroves. The agency is moving in the right direction by limiting fires in the short term through rewetting. BRG needs to work with the long term in mind and redevelop mangroves as well.
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Indonesians concerned with preventing future fires and haze need to contact the Peatland Restoration Agency and BRG and urge the agency to be involved in the regrowth of peatlands, not only the rewetting of cleared lands.
Message Translation: Maria Zerlinda Susetyo