A general view shows land recently burned and newly planted with oil palms and now under police investigation west of Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, on Oct. 30. (Reuters Photo/Darren Whiteside)

Government Draws Up Blueprint for Restoration of Peat Forests

BY :BASTEN GOKKON

NOVEMBER 17, 2015

Jakarta. The Environment and Forestry Ministry plans to complete Indonesia’s landmark blueprint for nationwide restoration of burned peat areas as part of the government’s mitigation and prevention efforts following the worst fires in recent memory.

“My office is taking on the biggest task in forming the framework [for peat restoration] and I will try to finish it in the next two or three days so I can discuss it with the National Development Planning Agency [Bappenas] and the chief economics minister,” Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar told reporters at a discussion in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The restoration plan, which is set for the next five years, will include a map showing all peat ecosystems, delineated into conservation or agricultural zones. It also establishes a peatland management task force to build and monitor canals to restore water to peat areas, and draws up technical guidelines for cultivation in peat areas to prevent damaging the carbon-rich soil.

Although the plan has not yet been finalized, Siti said the government had already commenced restoration efforts in four locations badly hit by the forest fires this year: Meranti district in Riau province, Ogan Komerling Ilir and Musi Banyuasin in South Sumatra, and Pulang Pisau district in Central Kalimantan.

M.R. Karliansyah, the Environment Ministry’s director general for environment pollution and damage control, said the government’s restoration efforts would take place largely on burned peat areas for conservation, which account for some 141,000 hectares of the 1.7 million hectares of burned area in the country as of Sept. 30.

“We want to focus heavily on restoring the water-rich peat domes in order to reduce the possibility of them catching fire,” Karliansyah said.

Asked about funding for the peat restoration efforts, Siti said the bulk of it would come from the state budget, with the rest coming from commitments by foreign countries and organizations.

She added that four parties had pledged to support the government’s peat restoration efforts, including the United States, Norway and the World Bank.

“The efforts will be conducted by the central government, not regional ones. So people shouldn’t worry about transparency or corruption,” she said.

Indonesia recorded one of its worst fire seasons this year, with daily carbon dioxide emissions from the forest fires alone exceeding the total emissions from US economic activity on several days.

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