One step closer to large-scale peat restoration

An important milestone in Indonesia’s efforts to restore large areas of degraded peatland was marked in Jakarta last week when the Peat Restoration Agency handed over large-scale and detailed peat maps to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. The maps will be used to restore degraded peat areas and prevent future forest and peat fires.

The maps are the results of comprehensive mapping efforts in four districts, covering close to 650 000 hectares. The four districts are all within provinces that have declared state of emergency during this year’s dry season due to the risk of fires.

Break-through in the work to accelerate peat restoration

Restoring these areas to prevent future peat and forest fires is a high priority of the Indonesian Government.

– The combined efforts of Indonesian authorities, universities and other partners, and the use of advanced technology, allow us to present this break-through in our work to accelerate the work on peat restoration, said Nazir Foead, Head of Indonesia’s Peat Restoration Agency.

The peat maps will be used to identify which areas to prioritize in the work with canal blocking, rewetting and revegetation. From the maps, experts cannot only read which canals should be blocked, but also where canal blocking should happen to be most effective.

– This will save time and allow more efficient use of the Government’s limited resources, Mr. Foead explained to the audience before handing over the map collection to representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and the National Planning Agency.

He also commended all the partners for their fast work since the extensive mapping exercise started last year.

Broad cooperation to tackle a large national challenge

The mapping was carried out under the supervision of the Peat Restoration Agency in line with  specifications and directions provided by the Geospatial Information Agency, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing, the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan), Bandung Institute of Technology, Bogor Institute of Agriculture and Gadjah Mada University.

– The Norwegian Government would like to congratulate all the involved parties on achieving this important milestone in the peat restoration work in Indonesia. It is inspiring to see the strong cooperation between Government agencies for the benefit of the health and environment of the Indonesian people, says Hilde Solbakken, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta.

The Peat Restoration Agency is tasked to restore 2 million hectares degraded peat between now and 2020. Before large-scale peat restoration can take place, the agency needs detailed information about the degraded areas.

– This can also become one of the largest contributions to achieving the targets of the Paris Agreement, Solbakken continues.

The mapping was conducted in the four districts identified by Foead and his colleagues as priority areas in the first year of the peat restoration efforts: Musi Banyuasin and Ogan Komering Ilir (South Sumatra province), Pulang Pisau (Central Kalimantan province), and Meranti (Riau province). Together with Jambi, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan these provinces have declared state of emergency in the current dry season, due to the high risk of forest and peat fires.

Use of laser technology from the air

Through its partnership with World Resources Institute, Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) has been able to support the mapping exercise. The mapping has taken place using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology, a technology integrating GPS/INS positioning systems and measurement of distance from a laser to an object on the Earth’s surface. The mapping takes place from specially equipped planes and is usually complemented by digital cameras.

– We hope that this LiDAR mapping can be used by relevant ministries and agencies to protect and manage peatlands more sustainably, said M. R. Karliansyah, Director General for Pollution and Environmental Degradation Mitigation, Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

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