The overall objective of the Kalimantan peatland project is to conserve the natural and economic value of central Kalimantan's peat swamp areas. This is not an easy task. Actions at different levels and in various disciplines are required to sustain and restore the natural values and life supporting functions of this sensitive ecosystem.
The project focuses on several target areas to maintain the unique values and uses of Kalimantan's peat swamp forest. The project aims to reduce incidence of and damage by fires, to improve the hydrology of the peatswamp forests and degraded peatlands, to re-green degraded peatlands, to improve biodiversity conservation, to build capacity and create awareness of the problems and solutions, and to support the livelihoods of local people in the area by involving them in the project work and by providing alternative modes of existence.
Integration of sustainable management of peatlands and poverty reduction development
The occurrence of peatlands in developing countries often coincides with rural poverty. As a consequence, these often last remaining wilderness and natural resource areas in the area, provide a buffer for the local communities that are located far from markets and are trapped in systems of poverty. They are often largely dependent on the productivity of natural ecosystems or the potential offered by conversion of these systems to subsistence agriculture. Many of the amenities, functions and values of the peatlands are crucial, not only for the food security of the people that live in the area, but also for the survival of their cultures and as a basis for poverty reduction. The project therefore beliefs that effective promotion of the sustainable use and conservation of wetland ecosystems and their resources needs to focus on what peatlands mean to people. This means that the solutions to peatland degradation must be found through development.
The project partners closely work together with the local communities and authorities and share their expertise and experience to reach this ambitious goal. The design of the specific planning activities and the mode of implementation are entirely bottom-up. Good cooperation with the local stakeholders is a critical success factor and this cooperation also will ensure the sustainability of the project activities beyond the end of the project.
Serving as an example for similar approaches
With its innovative approaches the project wants to set an example for provincial, country authorities, institutions and NGOs how to integrate the principles of sustainable development into policies and programmes for large scale restoration of logged and drained peatlands and for the protection of intact areas. The project will draw lessons from the project and communicate her approach widely to promote similar approaches for other peatland regions in Indonesia.
Raise awareness for need large scale action for local and global purposes
The Central Kalimantan Peatlands Project is a first and small step towards restoration and sustainable use of Central Kalimantan’s peatlands. But the degradation of these former peatswamp forests is causing problems on a much larger scale. The fact that the huge areas of potentially productive forests might be turned into wastelands for ever is a problem at the level of the whole country. Annual peat fires cause smog, air pollution, even for neighbouring countries.
But the project also serves to make the rest of the world aware of the enormous impacts of peatland destruction in Indonesia. Of what it means for Indonesia, but also for on a global level. In Indonesia alone, 2000 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide are emitted due to peatland loss. This is equal to 8% of all global CO2 emissions. Central Kalimantan is one of the main areas causing this problem. Also in terms of biodiversity the area is of global importance as it hosts globally threatened species such as the Orang Utan, but also less known threatened species. Indonesia cannot solve this problem by itself.
While Indonesia acknowledges that addressing peatland degradation is its own responsibility, the country needs international support and incentives to achieve its aims. Indonesia needs incentives from individual countries, international conventions such as the UN conference of climate change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and private partners to support the development of incentives for improving this situation.
Long term funding for peatland conservation and restoration
Hopefully the project will be the start of a much larger effort targeting all major peatlands in Southeast Asia. Long-term funding is an absolute necessity to enable this. We appeal to governments and private sector agencies to take the next step. Investments in peat swamp forest conservation and restoration will not only reduce poverty and conserve biodiversity, but will also significantly reduce global carbon dioxide emissions and land degradation.