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Peatland recovery in Indonesia
The project prioritised the rehabilitation of degraded peatland as part of a carbon emissions and fire reduction plan for the area.
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Nature-based solutions: Peatland recovery in Indonesia

53ha
of degraded peatland planted
3Mha
of degraded peatland in Indonesia
10,000
farmers supported to improve harvests and raise livelihoods

Opportunity

Indonesia is home to the world’s second largest area of tropical peatland, but expansion of oil palm and acacia plantations, as well as intensive logging has degraded or destroyed much of this land. Millions of hectares of peat have been drained, releasing huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and fuelling climate change. During the dry season peatland fires can burn for months and lead to the infamous Indonesian ‘haze’, causing respiratory problems and damaging economies across the region. Also, peat up to 5cm deep in degraded areas erodes each year, reducing water absorption and increasing flood risk, causing land to lose economic value. After the devastating forest fires during the 2015 El Niño event – when more than 2Mha of peat burned for months, causing up to 100,000 premature deaths and a further 500,000 people to require hospital treatment – the government created the National Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), with a mandate to restore the affected areas.

Solution

Our project to shield the Berbak National Park, a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in Jambi province, one of Indonesia’s main palm oil production regions, began in 2015. The project prioritised the rehabilitation of degraded peatland as part of a carbon emissions and fire reduction plan for the area. The work included building 135 canals in the park’s Tahura buffer zone to raise groundwater levels and slow peat degradation, and replanting 53ha with plant species adapted to cope with the re-wetting of peat soils. To ensure long-term sustainability and prevent further deforestation, the project supported the many smallholder farmers in the area who depend on small plantations of between 2ha and 5ha to improve their livelihoods without expanding into virgin peat lands. We also helped the BRG with donor co-ordination, including identifying potential funding for further peatland restoration activities and carrying out an extensive training programme among local BRG staff.

Outcome

Through the better use of fertiliser and pesticides, and by adopting new farming practices, around 10,000 oil palm farmers were able to maximise their harvests, with the increase in net profits averaging 25% over 2.5 years. As part of our work with smallholders, some 2000 farmers were also certified to the ISCC palm oil standard, which, among others, requires farmers to follow good management practices, work to protect soil fertility and water, reduce emissions, and minimise their use of pesticides. Discouraging the expansion of farmland will also help to shield Berbak’s vital ecosystems and species, including the endangered Sumatran Tiger. Peat, which is made of plant matter built up over time, effectively converts atmospheric carbon to solid form. Berbak ​contributes to ​Indonesia’s ​vast peat stores of ​up to 60bn tonnes of carbon and our efforts to protect this special but vulnerable ecological area and reverse the damage already done will keep carbon stored away. As a business committed to becoming carbon neutral, we have purchased offset credits that will finance the creation of new peatland in the Berbak National Park with a storage capacity equivalent to 31,000t of carbon.

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