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Jakarta Post

Peatland conservation: Buried low-hanging fruit revealed

  • Daniel Murdiyarso
    Daniel Murdiyarso

    Principal scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Bogor   /   Fri, February 2, 2018   /  11:02 am
Peatland conservation: Buried low-hanging fruit revealed Smoke rises up from a peat-land fire in Pekanbaru, Riau province, on February 1, 2018, one of 73 detected hotspots causing haze on the island of Sumatra. The haze is an annual problem in Indonesia caused by fires set in forest and on carbon-rich peatland in Indonesia to clear land for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. (AFP/Wahyudi)

For years Indonesia has been struggling to cope with land and forest fires, which have not only raised health and aviation safety concerns but also triggered diplomatic rows with neighboring countries. The prevention and control of fires are even more challenging when peatland is involved. Not only do smoldering peat fires produce haze and pollutants, but they also release a large amount of carbon dioxide — a heat-trapping greenhouse gas — as carbon-rich ecosystems are burned or oxidized. Unfortunately, we are not sure how long they will last as we do not know how deep the peat is. Depending on how one defines peatland, procedures to estimate the extent and distribution of peatland are widely known and relatively assessable with prevailing technology. But effective tools to estimate peat depth or thickness is lacking. As a result, there is a high amount of uncertainty r...

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.