Indonesia seeks joint ASEAN effort for sustainable peatland management

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Indonesia has invited countries in Southeast Asia to work closely together for sustainable peatland management to support economic growth and maintain the ecological balance in the region and the globe.

Indonesian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Gandi Sulistyanto, in a release received in Jakarta on Wednesday, said that tropical peatland in Southeast Asia provides many benefits for the region, from providing timber and non-timber forest products, water reserves, and helping in flood control, among others.

“Peat in Southeast Asia also stores large carbon stocks and is home to biodiversity,” Ambassador Gandi said while delivering the keynote speech at a discussion on peatland management at the 15th World Forestry Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on Monday (May 2, 2022).

Peatlands in Southeast Asia are estimated to cover an area of 24 million hectares. Apart from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei Darussalam, peatlands can also be found over small areas in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and the Philippines.

Ambassador Gandi said the Indonesian government is strongly committed to managing peat ecosystems by building a monitoring and control system for forest and land fires.

It is also promoting the sustainable use of peatlands at the national and regional levels.

The government, including the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency, as well as community and business actors have continued to work hard to ensure that peatlands are managed sustainably.

One of the initiatives carried out by business actors for sustainable peatland management in Indonesia is the Riau Ecosystem Restoration (RER).

Head of operations of RER, Brad Sanders, said that RER, which is funded by April Group, is committed to restoring 150,693 hectares of peatland in the Kampar Peninsula and Padang

Island, Riau.

In the landscape where RER is located, the plantation area is managed sustainably to protect the restored peatlands.

The production of sustainable plantations will also provide funding for restoration activities in the long term, Sanders said.

Restoration efforts that have been carried out so far include closing a 146-kilometer stretch along the old canal and conducting protective patrols involving the local community, he added.

Head of the environmental division of the ASEAN Secretariat, Vong Sok, said cooperation among ASEAN countries on peat management has continued to strengthen, for example, in the area of preventing forest and land fires.

In addition, a document outlining a sustainable peat management strategy has been released, which can serve as a guide for ASEAN countries.

Vong Sok said that the project for implementing sustainable peat management is currently being piloted in countries in the Mekong Delta, namely Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

Source: Antara News