Peatland: From “Idle” to “Idol”

Peat land’s ecosystem lies about 26 million ha along Sumatra, kalimantan and Papua. These unique ecosystem have been degraded from 36 million ha, Indonesia’s semi-land lowland tropical forest well known as the biggest peat land area in the world, but recent condition have showed that these peat land have suffered from conversion and forest and forest area fire.

Since the forestry and agriculture development depend on the needs of land, there is nothing left for forest or forest area that can be converted into timber estate plantation and palm oil expansion, triggered a government policy started from around 80’s to utilize the peat land to fulfil the needs of land.

Kampar Peninsula‘s Peatland area flanked between 2 big river in Riau, which are Siak River and Kampar River, now have become fraught between conservation and production needs of Forestry-Agriculture by several stakeholders in Riau. RAPP (Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper), one of APRIL’s Group (Asia Pacific Resoures International) will develop Kampar Peninsula into Kampar Ring which will save the peat land from destruction by a concept of interval (inset) planting along buffer zone between concession area of RAPP and peat land forest area.

At the same time, Jikalahari, a Riau’s networking NGO shove those area to become a pear land’s biosphere pledge area to protect the lowland tropical forest ecosystem from any forms of land conversion for timber estate and palm oil plantation.

Meanwhile, in Meranti Bay, another part of Kampar Peninsula, Predicted has become a development area of partnership-HTR (community based timber estate) between the company and local community, facilitated by the third stake holder (NGO)

From an APRIL’s Sustainability Director, Neil Franklin’s statement in a KpSHK’s “Peat land for Life” Seminar held in Hotel Salak – Bogor (April 22nd), Kampar Ring is an eco-hydro concept which will manage the concept of multi-silviculture that gave a aignificant impact for a water level treatment maintaining to Kampar River, so that we could avoid the degradation of peat land area in Kampar Peninsula.

Kampar Ring Program itself has a goals for adaptation and mitigation of climate changes in peat land ecosystem, which will gave economical benefit for a company in a world’s carbon trade scheme as an implementation of voluntary market of REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation).

in the same occasion, Bustat Maitar from Greenpeace – South East Asia declared, “it is those who could cause a destruction of the peat land ecosystem, so mentioned; palm oil (7.3 million ha) and timber estate (5.7 million ha) plantation. These two big industries have introduced a canal technology to dry up the peat land.

“Last years, Greenpeace strike with a timber estate canal closing action in Kampar Peninsula, and also they did a fly over the peat land area with “Tweety” (Greenpeace’s small helicopter). Kampar Peninsula is a tropical peat land forest that still wide exists left in Riau” said Bustar in one of his presentation speech.

Taking an example from the widest peat land ecosystem destruction in an Indonesia’s agriculture and forestry history, a very valuable experience came from a Central Kalimantan’s million ha mega rice project (PLG) in 1995. This project has caused local ecology destruction. eks-PLG peat land rehabilitation program have never come near to an end until there is an opportunity of a carbon trade issue after UNFCCC in Bali (2007) and Poznan (2008). Greenpeace noted that Mega Rice Project only leave 4.600 km canals in years to come.

The same condition could also be found in Tripa Peat Land, Nangroe Aceh Darussalam, since HGU (utilization and management permission right) still held by several different companies, one of them is Astra Agrolestari develop a 6.000 ha palm oil plantation, since early 80’s. At the present, these activities clearly disturb an effort for Sumatran Orangutan Wildlife Habitat Rehabilitation, since it already has been converted into a palm oil plantation.

Destruction, Rehabilitation, and re-management (utilization) of Indonesia’s peat lands strengthened by a declaration of government policy at minister law level on the “Peat land’s Conversion for Palm Oil”, issued by Department of Agriculture recently, have intensify the assumptions that peat land is no longer considered as an “idle” land, as a statement by the time an Indonesia’s Forest have produce a big number of national income from a HPH (Forest Management Unit Permission) practices in early 80’s. Peat land have become a a new land provider “idol” for a future of forestry and agriculture development. (tjong and nino)

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