Peatland fires inflict trillions of Rupiah in losses

Peatland fires inflict trillions of Rupiah in losses

13 March 2015

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Indonesia — The organizers of a study have found that peatland fires in three regencies in Jambi in 2014 caused Rp 44.714 trillion (US$3.4 billion) in losses and have offered to supply an agriculture system to prevent further damage.

The Forestry School of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) and the Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI) Warsi recently conducted the Peat Fire Impact Valuation study in West Tanjung Jabung, Tanjung Jabung and Muarojambi, and found that the fires had damaged 628,627 hectares of peatland in the three regencies, causing huge losses equalling 15 times the provincial budget for this year of Rp 3.5 trillion.

“In the study, the method used for calculating the impacts of peatland fires was that stipulated in Environment Ministerial Decree No. 13/2011 regarding compensation due to pollution and/or environmental damage,” IPB Forestry School researcher Basuki Wasis said in Jambi city on Thursday.

Basuki said the calculation of the economic value was relative in nature and could be debatable, but the research used the basis for calculating the viable value, which was accountable.

He added that the ministerial decree contained clear and precise substance, language and rules.

The decree covers the impacts of peatland fires, such as air pollution in the form of carbon emission and absorption and environmental damage caused by a peatland’s failure to retain water, as well as water management, erosion control, soil formation, nutrient recycling, waste decomposition, biodiversity and genetic resources.

The decree also mentions that peatland fires result in incalculable and high environmental restoration costs.

KKI Warsi executive director Diki Kurniawan said the study could be used as material to make stakeholders more aware and prompt them to apply sustainable peatland management.

“We are at the same time making efforts to remind stakeholders to anticipate the considerable loss every time a peatland fire occurs,” said Diki.

He added that peatland and forest fires were regarded regular disasters and so were dealt with as incidental occurrences.

“There should be definite, concrete and sustainable measures so Jambi can prevent losses,” said Diki.

One of the solutions being offered for sustainable peatland management is the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) concept, he said.

“The CSA is a farming system that can minimize the impacts of climate change. It can also boost crop production through adaptation and mitigation efforts by agricultural innovation, which can minimize carbon emissions,” said Diki.

Diki added that the CSA concept was aimed at supporting mitigation and adaptation activities. The concept came to light following the development of the REDD+ and climate change issues.

In its implementation at the macro level, the CSA focuses on land use based on ecological condition, while at the micro level, the CSA emphasizes accuracy in picking crop varieties based on the ecosystem, culture and market, he said.

Diki said the system also took into account aspects that could reduce carbon emissions on peatland, increase carbon absorption and apply eco-friendly management so as to preserve biodiversity and crop variety adjustment that would be able to increase land productivity so as to have positive impacts on food reliance and family income.

Based on 2011 ministry data, Jambi has 676,341 hectares of peatland, or 10 percent of the country’s total peatland.

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