Conservation news

Podcast: Restoration for peat’s sake

A Greenpeace activist surrounded by thick haze from forest fires, stands in burned peatland in a concession belonging to PT Wira Karya Sakti (WKS) in East Tanjung Jabung, Jambi. WKS is a logging concession part of the Sinar Mas Forestry group. Image courtesy of Greenpeace Media Library.

  • Once drained for palm oil or other agricultural uses, Indonesia’s peatlands become very fire prone, putting its people and rich flora and fauna – from orchids to orangutans – at risk.
  • Over a million hectares of carbon-rich peatlands burned in Indonesia in 2019, creating a public health crisis not seen since 2015 when the nation’s peatland restoration agency was formed to address the issue.
  • To understand what is being done to restore peatlands, we speak with the Deputy Head of the National Peatland Restoration Agency, Budi Wardhana, and with Dyah Puspitaloka, a researcher on the value chain, finance and investment team at CIFOR, the Center for International Forestry Research.
  • Restoration through agroforestry that benefits both people and planet is one positive avenue forward, which Dyah discusses in her remarks.

When over a million hectares of carbon-rich peatlands burned in Indonesia in 2019, a public health crisis followed – the haze that results causes serious respiratory issues for humans and wildlife, and contributes to climate change – and had not seen at that level since 2015, when the nation’s peatland restoration agency was formed to address the issue.

Once drained for palm oil or other agricultural uses, Indonesia’s peatlands become very fire prone, putting its people and rich flora and fauna – from orchids to orangutans – at risk.

To understand what is being done to restore these peatlands, we speak with the Deputy Head of the National Peatland Restoration Agency, Budi Wardhana, and with Dyah Puspitaloka, a researcher on the value chain, finance and investment team at CIFOR, the Center for International Forestry Research.

Listen here:

Restoration through agroforestry that benefits both people and planet is one positive avenue forward, which Dyah discusses in her remarks (see below for video).

For more on this topic, see the recent report at Mongabay, “Indonesia renews peat restoration bid to include mangroves, but hurdles abound.” All our coverage of the haze problem can be found here, and additional restoration features are here.

Mongabay Explores Sumatra is a special podcast series that dives into the unique beauty, natural heritage, and key issues facing this one of a kind landscape by speaking with people working to study, understand, and protect it. Episode 1 features a Goldman Prize winner from Sumatra about what makes his home so special, listen here, and further programs have focused on the people working to save the Sumatran rhino, the reasons why deforestation is so widespread in the province, and how a hydropower dam in the Batang Toru Ecosystem threatens core habitat of the world’s rarest great ape, the Tapanuli orangutan. The majesty and plight of the Sumatran tiger has also been discussed during the series, as well as that of Sumatran elephants and Sumatran orangutans.

Peat fires cause a regional air pollution problem: here an orangutan in Central Kalimantan climbs a tree as its habitat is overspread by the haze. Image courtesy of Greenpeace Media Library.

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Here’s a CIFOR video about one of the pineapple agroforestry projects in Sumatra:

Banner image: A Greenpeace activist surrounded by thick haze from forest fires, stands in burned peatland in a concession belonging to PT Wira Karya Sakti (WKS) in East Tanjung Jabung, Jambi. Image courtesy of Greenpeace Media Library.