Indonesia organizes world's first Peat Jamboree

Peat Jamboree closing
28 - 30 April, Indonesia's Peat Restoration Agency gathered 1 600 farmers from across Indonesia in Banjar, South Kalimantan. The farmers expressed their commitment to work with the Government to prevent future forest and land fires in Indonesia. Photo: BRG.

1 600 farmers committed to work with the Government to prevent future forest and land fires in Indonesia.

The Peat Restoration Agency (Badan Restorasi Gambut, BRG) organized the Peat Jamboree in Banjar, South Kalimantan, 28-30 April.

The BRG is mandated to restore approximately 2 million hectares of degraded peatlands over a period of 5 years. This ambitious goal can only be achieved if the Government is engaging and working with farmers and local communities who live in or close to these landscapes.

The identified priority provinces for BRG's work are Riau, South Sumatra, Jambi, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, West Kalimantan and Papua, and farmers from these provinces were well represented in Banjar.

Hand over of declaration to Nazir Foead, Head of BRG
Nazir Foead, Head of BRG, receives the declaration from the farmers. Photo: BRG.

Farmers asked for village-based peatland restoration

During the closing of the Peat Jamboree, the first of its kind world-wide, the farmers expressed their commitment through the Banjar Declaration:

"We are Indonesian peatland peasant communities, living in and around province-targeted restoration areas, today, Monday 30 April 2018, gathered to state:

  1. Our support to the Government of Indonesia in preventing forest and land fires through the peatland restoration program.
  2. Ready to actively participate in the protection of peatland ecosystem in a planned, systematic and integrated ways based on cooperation among villages and regions.
  3. Ready to carry out peatland ecosystem management through no burning peat farming in a sustainable manner for the welfare of peasant communities.
  4. Urge the government to accelerate and expand village-based and community-based peatland restoration program."
Kaale and farmers
Vegard Kaale, Norway's Ambassador to Indonesia, had the pleasure of meeting many of the farmers and seeing the variety of products they brought to Banjar in South Kalimantan. Photo: Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta

Important contributions to the Indonesian economy

Impressed, both by the farmers and the large-scale event organized by BRG in cooperation with South Kalimantan province and other partners, Norway’s Ambassador Vegard Kaale addressed the Jamboree during the closing. In his statement, he recognized how the farmers contribute to the Indonesian economy and the many challenges they are facing:

- Agriculture IS the bread and butter of any community, of any economy, of any nation. But agriculture is not easy, and peatland is a particularly tricky environment for agriculture, both in Indonesia and in Norway. We have gradually learned about the negative impacts of this way of using the land. The land was gradually becoming unproductive, and the environment destroyed.

In his speech, Ambassador Kaale also promised continued support to the Government of Indonesia’s peat restoration efforts:

- When the Government of Indonesia in 2015 said that a change was needed, many countries offered to work with Indonesia to find a better way. Norway was one of those countries, and we have supported the President’s peatland agenda from the start. With the Ministry of Environment and Forest and with BRG we are therefore working to find the new farming practices and products that could work well in peatlands. And we are looking for smart ways of protecting the peatlands.

Smartness, experience and hard work

- A whole Government stands behind this, and universities and civil society are also working hard to achieve the goals. But the most important participants in this work are the many farmers gathered here today. We cannot achieve anything without your smartness, your experience and your hard work. Therefore, we encourage you to help the Government and BRG to succeed, Ambassador Kaale said in his closing remarks.

Facts about peatlands in Indonesia:

  • Indonesia's peatlands occupy more than 15 million hectares of land, mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Papua.
  • These peatlands store enormous amounts of carbon. 
  • The peat reaches from 50cm to 10m below ground and releases large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere when it burns.
  • One of the main reasons for peatland degradation and destruction is that peat is drained to be used for cultivation of agricultural crops.
  • More than 60 percent of Indonesia’s emissions come from deforestation and the degradation of peatlands, including peat fires.

More about preventing fires and peat restoration in Indonesia