Landscape level peat restoration to begin this year, says Peat Agency Chief

(foresthints.news) - Indonesia's Peat Restoration Agency Chief, Nazir Foead, has reaffirmed that landscape level peat restoration is to be commenced soon this year.

“This landscape level peat restoration consists of several concessions located in an extensive peat landscape, especially those under the control of one business group, which were afflicted by huge peat fires,” Nazir told foresthints.news on Saturday (Sep 3) while in Riau province to visit a number of fire spots.

Nazir explained that the peat agency will soon be submitting spatially-based legal recommendations to the Environment and Forestry Ministry and Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry / National Land Agency as the first stage in the revision of the operational plans of pulpwood and palm oil concessions located in certain landscapes.

“We are prioritizing landscape level peat restoration in the priority regencies as set out in the presidential regulation,” he pointed out.

The Peat Agency Chief added that these recommendations would call for peat restoration efforts to be focused on peatlands burned last year, which covered a substantial area and involved several companies with concessions adjoining each other in a broad landscape.

“We are focusing on saving the peat domes that are scattered throughout the concessions situated in an extensive landscape.”

He went on to describe how the peat agency had already identified several prioritized landscapes this year which would serve as the basis for the peat agency’s recommendations.

“In the event that there are several concessions located in one landscape under the control of a single business group, this will be seen as a measure worthy of attention. Basically, landscape level peat restoration will have to be performed in an effective manner, including by engaging the communities located in the landscape concerned.”

Nazir reiterated that the massive peat fires mostly from last year, which proved difficult to extinguish with any kind of equipment, took place in drained peat domes located in concession areas, especially in South Sumatra province.

“It is very relevant from a technical perspective to understand why our President asked for peat domes found in concession areas to be included in peat restoration efforts. President Jokowi is a forester, so of course he has good knowledge about peat restoration, and in particular the need for peat domes to be salvaged.”

He emphasized that business groups whose concessions were partly made up of peat domes would certainly have to be prepared to take part in the peat restoration scheme. This, he added, was in the long-term interests of the business groups, especially in terms of long-term business sustainability.

“It is essential that we have the commitment of the owners of pulp & paper and palm oil business groups that they are willing to phase out doing business in peat domes. To this end, we are continuing to communicate with these owners. Clearly they need to accept the directive of the President to phase out any business that involves peat domes.”

Nazir explained that this phasing-out process would be incorporated into the revised operational plans of companies whose business presently still involves peat domes in their concessions.

“The revised operational plans of these companies will serve as a test of the owners’ commitment. We require a legally-binding commitment in the form of revisions to these legal documents.”