A Japan-Indonesia research collaboration project has developed a new peatland mapping system that will help scientists to more-accurately estimate the size of carbon reservoirs in peat forests and monitor the annual carbon flux in the area, a Japanese scientist says.
Mitsuru Osaki, a visiting expert in plant physiology from Hokkaido University, Japan, said on Thursday that the Integrated Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system developed during the research project could play a critical role in the recovery and maintenance of tropical peat forests in Indonesia.
With this system, scientists could gain more precise scientific data on the conditions of peatland, such as its density and thickness, needed to develop effective carbon management in these areas, he said.
“By using cutting-edge technologies and science, this system can help us to manage carbon in the tropical peatland,” Osaki told a two-day international symposium on “Wild Fire and Carbon Management in Peat-Forest in Indonesia”, which began today (Thursday).
The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) is hosting the symposium in collaboration with the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), Hokkaido University and Palangkaraya University.
The “Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development” project, funded by JICA and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), began in October 2008 with Central Kalimantan as the research location. Now, the project is entering its final stage.
“During this project, we focused our research on how to rehabilitate, reforest, and manage peatland areas severely affected by the Mega-rice Project several years ago. To manage the peat ecosystem, we needed more scientific data; hence, we developed this reliable measurement system,” said Osaki, who is also one of the experts on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCCC).
Peatland in Southeast Asia accounts for 70 percent of all peatland in the tropics. The tropical peatland in Central Kalimantan has been recognized as one of the most significant carbon reservoirs in the world.
LIPI chairman Lukman Hakim said natural low-land tropical peatland, which was dominated by trees, was an important reservoir for biodiversity, carbon and water. "Tropical peat forests make an important contribution to regional and global biodiversity and provide vital but undervalued habitats for rare and threatened species, such as birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles,” he said.
With the increase of carbon dioxide emissions, Indonesia is facing stronger pressure to reduce its massive deforestation and peatland degradation, which is deemed significant in releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
“We realize, however, that the lack of scientific data on the wild fire and carbon potential in peat forests in the country has affected our efforts to combat climate change,” said Lukman.
With one-and-a-half years remaining until the project's completion, Osaki said his team from Hokkaido University and other scientists from both Indonesia and Japan were currently developing a procedure to make use of the Integrated MRV System for peat conservation in Indonesia.
“[The system] appears to be a significant contribution we can provide via the research to help Indonesia manage its peat ecosystem,” he said. (iwa)