The Central Kalimantan peatland project has been a very successful in just a very short time. By using a unique and innovative community-based approach the consortium of partners achieved to considerably improving land use and management of tropical peatswamps in Central Kalimantan, linked to enhancing the livelihoods of local communities in the project area.
Note: Since no follow-up funding was found for the project, it has been difficult for this consortium to monitor and garantee the sustainability of the achievements.
Reduced emissions from drainage and peat fires
In Central Kalimantan, the project together with local communities built 18 dams in large drainage canals and over 150 blocks in small drainage channels so far, restoring the hydrology of 10,000 ha in the Sebangau area and over 50,000 hectares of drained and degraded peatlands in the Ex-Mega Rice area. We were able to increase the water table with one, often even two meters. This means for every hectare, a reduced annual emission of peat-carbon in the order of40-100 tonnes carbon dioxide. In total we estimate a reduced emission of at least 2,5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by reducing decomposition only. These emissions would, without these restoration activities, have continued for some decades until it gradually ends when all the peat has disappeared.
Additionally we reduced emissions resulting from fires. Annually these emissions in Indonesia wide constitute more than twice the emissions from decomposition. Around 250,000 hectares of peatland now has improved security from fires and fire-fighting capacity has been improved in 25 villages.
Over 1000 hectares replanted peatland so far
By providing seedlings of valuable indigenous tree species that can live under waterlogged circumstances, farmers were convinced to plant these (over 1000 hectares so far) and to reduce drainage and stop burning of land. By reforesting the rewetting peatswamps we stimulated carbon sequestration. This sequestration will continue; also after the forest will come to climax vegetation because carbon will be stored in the form of peat.
Success in improving health and creating alternative livelihoods
Access to health facilities was improved in 17 villages. Malnutrition has been reduced. Also local incomes are on the rise. Alternative farming (coupled with improved access to markets), planned conservation incentives and carbon services are paying off for local communities. Households participating in the CKPP-program have been able to stabilize their incomes. Communities were supported to adopt more sustainable land management practices.
Changes to management of the area will help to sustain important natural resources such as fish, timber and other peatland products. The project has led to improved spatial planning policies and plans of provincial and national government and better coordination between government departments on peatland matters.
Increased respect peatlands in Indonesia
There is some renewed respect for the environment noticeable in Indonesia. This can be witnessed in the reduction of illegal sawmills in forest reserves and in rising political, public and financial support for peatland conservation. This is also evident in the actions of the Provincial Government, which recently initiated a Master Plan for peatlands rehabilitation.
Awareness on a global level
Also on a global level the consortium has caused a lot of commotion about the peatland problems in Indonesia. Through much media coverage and presence on important meetings and conventions, the climate change impact of peatlands is now high on the agenda of the Convention of Biological Diversity and of the UN climate conference. The 2007 UN-FCCC summit in Bali agreed to address the loss of forests ánd their associated carbon stocks like peat soils. In addition, the negotiations towards a new climate deal included the need to address the loss of deforestation. The text on REDD (deforestation in developing countries; status after Copenhagen 2009) opens the road to also address peatland loss; with the funds provided by developed countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. Wetlands International continues to advocate for policies that do address the enormous carbon losses due to peatswamp loss; also after the end of this project.