|KOZAN Osamu||Kyoto University|
|Project Researchers at RIHN|
|SUZUKI Haruka||Project Researcher / Kyoto University|
|KAJITA Ryosuke||Project Researcher|
|OSAWA Takamasa||Project Researcher|
|KATSURA Tomomi||Project Research Associate|
|Main Project Members|
|OKAMOTO Masaaki||Kyoto University|
|ITOH Masayuki||Kyoto University|
|SHIMAMURA Testuya||Ehime University|
|SATO Yuri||Institute of Developing Economies|
|PAGE, Susan||University of Leicester, UK|
|GUNAWAN, Haris||Peatland Restoration Agency, Indonesia|
|SABIHAM, Supiandi||Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia|
|DHENY TRIE WAHYU SAMPURNO, S.Si||Indonesian Agency of Geospatial Information, Indonesia|
Peat swamp forests are found throughout Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, and contain massive stores of carbon and water. Over the last two decades, these swamps have been intensively exploited for commercial acacia and oil palm plantations. As these trees cannot grow in swamps, they have been drained, creating extensive areas of dried peatlands, which are extremely vulnerable to fire.
In 2015, peatland fires burned 2.1 million hectares of forest in Indonesia, affecting 45 million people. A half million people suffered from upper respiratory tract infections, and thousands of people, especially children, were afflicted with asthma.
The government responded to this disaster by mobilizing the army, punishing people who set fires, and refusing to issue new peatland development permits. These measures were urgently needed, but provided only short-term relief. The public has demanded longer-term and sustainable measures, such as rewetting and reforestation.
The Government of Indonesia established the Peatland Restoration Agency in January 2016, and declared that two million hectares of degraded peatlands will be restored by 2019. The objective of this research project is to generate solutions to the current crisis of peat degradation and related fi re and haze in tropical regions, especially Southeast Asia. It seeks to identify and implement alternative practices in collaboration with local people, as well as academia, government, NGOs, and international organizations.
The project conducts multidisciplinary research in order to clarify the entire process of peatland degradation. We focus on: A) gathering social and ecological baseline data on peatlands and measuring the impacts of fi re and haze; B) implementing paludiculture projects in wetland areas as a potential mitigation strategy to peatland degradation; and C) identifying governance structures and incentives, including environmental finance mechanisms, that can support sustainable peatland management. These projects engage local people, migrants, logging and plantation companies, and local and national governments.
Project researchers introduced the practice of rewetting and reforestation in peatland areas in Bengkalis District, Riau Province in 2010. This experimental site has attracted significant attention, especially since 2015 when fire and haze became very serious. Along with project-led international seminars, the site has significantly enhanced public awareness of the potential for rewetting and forestation to regenerate peatland.
On August 10, 2016, the Research Institute of Humanity and Nature, Kyoto University, and Hokkaido University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Peatland Restoration Agency of Indonesia to conduct action research to restore degraded peatland. Our project has created action plans based on this MOU and has accordingly begun to implement a restoration program in Meranti District, Riau Province.
Peatland ecosystems are vulnerable: damage from human disturbance can be irreversible. In order to achieve long-lasting solutions to peatland degradation, we must also understand the vulnerability of tropical peatland societies. Communities within peatlands oft en have little social capital, and land is owned by the state and not well managed. In this context our research objective is to examining alternative livelihood strategies addressing the environmental and social vulnerability of tropical frontier societies. The project supports community-initiated paludiculture as a sustainable livelihood model in rewetted peatlands, and thus explores the potential transformation of tropical peatland societies.
This research thus demonstrates the future potential of peatland-based societies the phasing out of monoculture production activity, the development of paludiculture, and the enlargement of protected peatland areas.
The edited book Catastrophe and Regeneration in Indonesia’s Peatlands: Ecology, Economy and Society was published by the National University of Singapore Press in 2016. This volume provides inter-disciplinary field-based and historical analyses of peatland degradation through examination of the survival motives of local people, profit motives of companies, and conservation motives of Government and NGOs. The book showcases the potential solution of rewetting and reforestation of “the people’s forest”. The book has been reviewed in multiple media, including leading international academic journals. Our project will continue to build on this research in order to develop new insights on tropical peatland management.▲PAGE TOP