Spotlight Activity: Peatland Restoration Agency Gets Down to Details and Flexes Results
In Batam City, the Peatland Restoration Agency (Badan Restorasi Gambut, BRG) and the Innovation Research and Development Center of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (BLI-KLHK) hosted a meeting that was this year’s follow-up to the Tropical Peatland Roundtable Discussion in 2017 to develop future strategies to more sustainably manage peatland tropical ecosystems. BRG is responsible to restore two million hectares of peatland by 2020 in seven provinces that have the most severely degraded lands. The ITPC (International Tropical Peatland Center) is a recent initiative of the KLHK, established in Bogor to be used as a reference point and knowledge center of peatland management. This meeting began in mid-November 2018. This meeting continues on the points of agreement from the 1st Tropical Peatland Roundtable Discussion in 2017 which included development of a tropical peat study, monitoring systems, international consultation committee, integrated peatland management models in the hydrological peatland units, and increasing human capacity. This second discussion will result in recommendations for technical steps of sustainable peatland management.
The Meranti Islands Regency presented on its success in peatland restoration and challenges it faces at the local level in the meeting. The regency was able to preserve peatlands up to 80% of the total Meranti islands area. The regional government supported communities in planting crops such as coconut, coffee and particularly sago that prevented exposure of the peat. The community agricultural and land management knowledge was an important component in the program’s success.
The Meranti Islands Regency used canal blocking and canalization to create ponds and water stores that could be drained into peatland ecosystems that are void of plant life, thereby preventing fire on exposed soil. This program was a combination of efforts that the BRG has touted in the last two years, namely the use of agriculture – particularly paludiculture – and rewetting to restore peatlands. Sago palms, the crop producing the greatest yields from the communities, can thrive in waterlogged soils. It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, making it an ideal crop to cover peat soil. Although unclear from reporting on the conference, if the sago was planted in rewetted or undrained but uncleared peatlands, it can be considered paludiculture. This demonstrates that BRG continued its work that it presented at COP-23 on paludiculture to restore peatlands, prevent fires, and improve community livelihoods. This conference and case example from Meranti demonstrates the promise of BRG, achieving the three key activities of community restoration; rewetting, revegetation, and revitalization. The success of the program can be attributed greatly to the yield of the 50 thousand hectares of plantation, generating 90% of domestic sago consumption and for export. BRG has also reduced hotspots through fish ponds, community gardens, other cover cropping, and thousands of drill wells, bore wells and canals. BRG is beginning to “socialize” land clearing without burning (known as Pembukaan Lahan Tanpa Bakar, PLTB). Socializing technical restoration programs produces more sustainable outcomes.
Status: Right Direction
BRG is moving forward with restoring peatland.
It claims it will have restored 600 thousand hectares by the end of 2018. BRG aims to complete 2.4 million hectares of restoration over the next five years.
BRG has stated that concession holders and companies are developing restoration plans for around 400 thousand hectares. Restoration on company land is still in its early stages.
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