Burnt peatswamp forests generally have a poor rate of natural regeneration. As a consequence many areas remain as wastelands, having low economic and natural values, contributing strongly to climate change due to emission of carbon dioxide. Active support of natural regeneration trough reforestation is a good way to restore the values of these areas. The Central Kalimantan Peatlands Project initiated several initiatives to attain this ambitious goal.
Regreening peatlands – regaining values
The project partners work together with local villagers to replant Kalimantan's peatlands. They implement three types of regreening activities to restore both ecological and socio-economical values. The first type of regreening takes place in the barren areas of Sebangau and Mawas, two stretches of peat swamp forest with a high international value for nature conservation. The project relies on previous experiences for the selection of suitable replanting sites and species. It only uses indigenous tree species which are tolerant to the harsh conditions found in burnt peatlands. The aim of these activities is to assist natural regeneration and to boost the speed of recovery.
The second type of regreening takes place in areas along rivers and channels which are commonly used for slash and burn agriculture. Many wildfires originate from these areas and therefore it is important to alter land use into a more sustainable form. By planting a mix of (indigenous) economically valuable tree species in these areas, local farmers will have a very good reason to abandon slash and burn practices. Chewing gum trees (jelutung), rattan palms and fruit trees (Durian, Tengkawan) are suitable candidates. Of course those activities do only take place with full support and cooperation of local communities.
Regreening will also take place within and directly surrounding local villages. Trees planted here intend to provide increased income to the local community. Two palm species, the Sugar palm and the Sago palm, seem to be highly profitable. Both species can potentially provide significant incomes. The project currently investigates potentials to cultivate these and other species.
All replanting activities take place based on community-based reforestation plans. A large number of nurseries are developed together with local villagers. Local communities will be trained to raise, plant and tend the trees. In this way the project creates jobs, a long-term source of income and increased awareness of the impact of forest fires.