Indonesia — The government is drafting a presidential decreeon peatland management to help combat global warming, as peatlands store a hugeamount of greenhouse gases.
Senior advisor to the forestry minister on partnership affairs,Sunaryo, said recently the first-ever decree on peatland management will tightensupervision on the use of peatlands across the country.
The decree — expected to be issued early next year — willalso prohibit the use of fire to clear vegetation in peatland areas.
“Under the decree, the central government will controlthe use of and permits for peatlands in the country,” Sunaryo said.
The draft says governors or regents must report the use andcondition of peatlands in their respective areas to the coordinating ministerfor people’s welfare.
The coordinating minister will then report directly to thePresident.
“In doing so, we can control the hefty stock of carbondioxide (CO2) stored in the peatlands while reaping the economic benefits of theland,” he said.
Currently, the management of peatlands is at the will of localadministrations.
Under the draft, peatlands less than three meters deep will bepermitted to be used for cultivation as well as for forestry, agriculture,industries, mining and residential areas.
“However, these activities must avoid the use of fire inclearing the vegetation in peatland areas,” Sunaryo said.
Indonesia has about 20 million hectares of dense, blacktropical peat swamps — formed when trees, roots and leaves rot — that arenatural carbon storage spots.
A hectare of peatland is predicted to store between 3,400 and4,000 tons of CO2. However, peatland emits a larger amount of CO2 when burned.
CO2 emissions cause global warming.
A report from Wetlands International in 2006 said Indonesia’speatlands emit around 2 billion tons of CO2 a year, far higher than thecountry’s emissions from energy, agriculture and waste, which together amount to451 million tons.
The Wetlands International in its report, Peatlanddegradation fuels climate change, placed Indonesia as the world’s thirdlargest emitter after the U.S. and China.
The decree draft states that those involved in peatlandactivities must also be responsible for preserving the ecosystem.
“In Kalimantan, peatlands are the main source of waterretention. Peatland damage could pose serious problems to the water supply,”Sunaryo said.
He said the government would in the future ban the use ofpeatland for residential purposes, particularly in areas where residents rely onwood for cooking.
“There are many residential areas in Kalimantan locatednear peatlands, such as in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan. The area is actuallyprone to fires,” he said.
The government is also drafting a proposal on cutting carbonemissions by preserving the country’s forests and peatlands, which is to bediscussed at the climate change conference in Bali in December.
The government hopes to decrease forest and peatland emissionsto be eligible for carbon trading.
The Kyoto Protocol obliges rich nations to cut emissions by 5percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012.
However, emission cuts from forests and peatlands are notincluded in the Kyoto Protocol.
The Bali conference, which will be attended by 189 countries,is expected to discuss a new scheme to cut emissions from forests and peatlandsand eligibility for global carbon trading.
Criteria for good and degraded peatland
No. Parameter good condition degraded condition
1. Peat dome fully covered by forest, looses water