The Newsletter 66 Winter 2013

Toward forest-based management of the peat lands in Riau, Indonesia

Kosuke Mizuno

In Southeast Asia, wet peat lands are rich in biomass and water resources, but extremely vulnerable to human induced environmental changes. They form a part of tropical forests where decomposed organic matter accumulates over many years, creating carbon-rich soil. Southeast Asia’s peat lands account for 11-14% of the total global peat carbon pool.1 Even though peat lands are not suitable for cultivation, they have been increasingly turned into an economic resource over the past 20 years. They have undergone unprecedented large-scale exploitation, leading to serious degradation, large scale fires, and carbon emissions across the region. Seeking to understand how peat lands are changing, a joint team of researchers from Kyoto (Japan) and Riau (Indonesia) have been undertaking a two-phase multidisciplinary initiative in Bengkalis (Riau) to shed light on forest use. Our research aims at a holistic analysis of forest use in a socio-economic context and an assessment of the ways in which local people can potentially participate in the rehabilitation of degraded peat lands toward long-term improved management.


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