Final Report Summary - RESTORPEAT (Restoration of tropical peatland to promote sustainable use of renewable natural resources)
The EU funded project on the restoration of tropical peatlands (RESTORPEAT) coordinated the activities of 14 international partners in Europe and Southeast Asia to address global and regional issues of carbon balance, water management, biodiversity and poverty alleviation related to restoration and sustainable management of tropical peatland renewable natural resources. It facilitated access to existing knowledge and expertise and conducted targeted research on the restoration of tropical peatland in order to promote sustainable livelihoods for local communities. It also provided a scientific and technological framework for knowledge transfer and human capacity development related to restoration of tropical peatland to the benefit of the EC and DCs.
The strategic objectives of the EU funded project on the restoration of tropical peatlands can be summarised as follows:
- Coordinate international activities that address global and regional issues of carbon balance, water management, biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation related to restoration and sustainable management of tropical peatswamp forest and peatland.
- Provide access to existing knowledge and expertise and conduct targeted research on restoration of tropical peat swamp forest to promote sustainable livelihoods of local people.
- Provide a scientific and technological framework for knowledge transfer and human capacity development related to restoration of peat swamp forest and tropical peatland to the benefit of the EC and DCs.
Results of the RESTORPEAT project are reflected in the 29 papers combined in this book dealing with issues such as:
- restoration of ecological and natural resource functions;
- restoration of the hydrological integrity and water management: impact on carbon fluxes;
- fire and land use change aspects of restoration;
- socio-economic and government aspects of restoration.
Restoration of ecological and natural resource functions
Before embarking on a major problematic reconstruction exercise addressing ecosystem restoration or rehabilitation it is essential first of all to know the context and operation of the ecosystem itself. Studies of the biodiversity and ecology of peat swamp forests have been a core component of the various research project undertaken by the contributing researchers for more than 10 years. As a result there was available a large body of information on flora, fauna, animal behaviour, orangutan population densities and chemical and physical attributes of the peat itself. This knowledge and its importance were reflected in this section.
Restoration of the hydrological integrity and water management: impact on carbon fluxes
The essential first step in ecological restoration of tropical peatland is rewetting by elevating the water table and maintaining it at or close to the surface throughout the year. After deforestation and drainage, this is not only difficult to do because water control devices have to be constructed and installed but it is very expensive. In addition, there is no certainty of success and various different approaches and methods may have to be tried before achieving the objective. Water table has a major effect on carbon gas emissions from peat with more CO2 being emitted at lower water table drawdown while CH4 increases under constant waterlogging and flood conditions. Problems of restoring hydrology and managing water levels are discussed in this section together with appraisal of the impact of different water table regimes on greenhouse gas emissions from tropical peatland.
Fire and land use change aspects of restoration
Unfortunately, deforestation and drainage of peat swamp forest, especially in Indonesia have been accompanied by the use of fire as a land clearance tool. Fire has become so established in peatland development and management that its use has become almost a way of life. Fires were lit every year by small holders and plantation managers as the most effective and cheapest way of clearing peatland and keeping it clear of secondary vegetation. Unfortunately, the fire also takes hold in the peat and as a result massive amounts of carbon are lost with the production of a noxious haze at the same time. No use can be made of tropical peatland unless the fire problem is solved by banning its use and educating people not to use it. The effects of fire in part of the peatland landscape of Central Kalimantan over a 20 year period are described in this section together with the methods of monitoring land use and land use change, including fire-burnt areas from space. The role of local communities in fire management is highlighted.
Socio-economic and government aspects of restoration
The role of the Indonesian Government at National and Local level in restoration of tropical peatland is reviewed together with analysis of the importance of providing sustainable livelihoods for local people in the peatland areas of Indonesia. It is essential that local people are involved in the restoration process and derive financial and social benefits from it.
Symposium statements on restoration and wise use of tropical peatland
Important policy statements have been issued at the end of all of the symposia that have contributed to this report. They have highlighted the key issues at each moment in time and identified priorities for action to manage tropical peatlands sustainably and, where they have been degraded or mismanaged, recommended courses of action to propel their restoration and future wise use. The main elements of two of these symposia statements were reproduced.