Large areas in Sumatra were severely burned during the forest and peat fires in 2015.  - Photo:Photo: Royal Norwegian EMbassy
Large areas in Sumatra were severely burned during the forest and peat fires in 2015. Photo: Royal Norwegian EMbassy

Working together to avoid future forest fires in South Sumatra

South Sumatra was one of the provinces that were hit the hardest during the forest and peat fires in Indonesia in 2015. Norway supports the province authorities and their partners in the work to restore the destroyed landscapes and prevent future fires.

| Jakarta

Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) are supporting a large-scale project in the province, in the districts Banyuasin and Musi Banyuasin.

The project supports the Governor of South Sumatra's work to establish the "South Sumatra Partnership for Ecoregion and Landscape Management", and implement a pilot production-protection partnership in the coastal lowland and peat landscape of South Sumatra.

The project is implemented by a number of organizations, under the leadership of the South Sumatra Government and Zoological Society London's Indonesia office.

Working with the local communities

The 2015 fires were widespread, partly because of agriculture practices including draining the deep peatland in order to grow agriculture products that cannot grow in too wet soil.

An important part of the work is therefore to ensure alternative livelihoods for the people living in the landscape, activities that will generate income without requiring draining the peat. In 21 villages the project is providing training and advice.

The project works with farmers to increase the production and quality of rubber and other products in order to increase their income without expanding the activity into forested areas.

Fire prevention, monitoring and preparedness

Training of teams to monitor the area and detect and prevent fires is also an important part of the project. When the embassies of United Kingdom and Norway in Jakarta visited the landscape in November, we were invited to see one of the fire monitoring towers built to overlook a large area.

The fire monitoring tower is overlooking areas that were massively burned in 2015. As the vegetation is taking over the burned areas, the tower will have to be built higher. Drones are also used to monitor the landscape.

Increasing the impact through working with partners

The project has recently entered into an agreement with the company PT Global Alam Lestari (Global Sustainable Nature), which holds a concession to bind and store carbon. Their aim is to bind 1 million tonnes of carbon annually, through restoring the peat and vegetation. Their concession area is twice the size of Singapore.

An important part of PT GAL’s operation is to increase the water levels through blocking the canals previously used to drain the peatland. As the water levels increase, this can potentially affect the surrounding landscape as well, and it is important that the different stakeholders in the landscape work together.

Tiger tracks are found in the remaining forest areas. The project is aiming to connect the remaining areas where one can find tigers and other wildlife.

Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative is supporting the project with a total of up to 102 million NOK over five years.