Improving Indonesia’s tropical peat-fire emissions monitoring as a restoration tool

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Laura Graham

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Indonesia’s tropical peat swamp forests are vast reservoirs of below-ground carbon. Annual deforestation rates, however, range from 3-8% with degradation stemming from drainage, logging, fires, and conversion of land for agriculture, oil-palm, and paper-pulp. Indonesia’s Nationally Determined Contribution is 29-41% reduction by 2030, the latter dependent on international support. This will require reducing peatland degradation rates and restoring several million hectares of already degraded peatlands. One of the key challenges facing peatland recovery is the annual occurrence of wildfires, which upon igniting the peat, create local and international haze crises and release large volumes of GHG. On-the ground-studies for understanding peat fire behaviour and for accurately calculating peat fire emissions remain very limited. To support the Indonesian government, the UMCES-IPB NASA Peat Fire Research Project, established in 2014, developed novel field methods and is collecting nation-wide data on peat fire occurrence, behaviour, and emissions across Indonesia. Nine Indonesian institutes are trained in and applying these methods, with data being collated in a central database. Our recently published paper highlights the importance of accurate field data to support calibration and verification of remote sensing models and calculations on emissions, where assumptions have been shown to lead to large percentage errors. For Indonesia to reach its peatland restoration targets, it is essential that methods, field data, and building local capacity are prioritised to facilitate accurate fire monitoring and efficient management. This project’s goals focus on the scientific capacity building and community-engagement aspects essential in ameliorating this international crisis.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration