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Jakarta Post

Local governments lack funds for peatland restoration

  • Anton Hermansyah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, March 14, 2016   /  08:52 pm
Local governments lack funds for peatland restoration

El-Niño effect: Water is sprayed on a fire in a concession area in Tulung Selapan, Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra, on Oct. 28. The government established in January the Peatland Restoration Agency, which is tasked with preventing forest fires during the next dry season.(JP/Jerry Adiguna )

The central government has instructed local governments to intensify their peatland restoration programs, but has not allocated funds from the state budget, leaving them seriously short of funds for the program.

The government established the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) in January.

Jambi Governor Zumi Zola said on Monday his administration had used funds from the provincial budget and contributions to implement the program, but the money was not enough.

"We asked members of the House of Representative when some of them observed [conditions] in Jambi whether we could use the village funds (dana desa) to finance the program, but they have been unable to give an answer," Zumi told thejakartapost.com on Monday.

Forest fires can currently be found in Riau and Jambi provinces despite it being the rainy season.

As part of efforts to restore peatland, the local governments are rushing to construct canal dams before the dry season arrives. Canals are built to dry out peatland before planting. As dry peatland easily burns, canal blocking is used to keep the peat wet and prevent it catching fire.

"Riau constructed 4,700 canals, 4,164 of which were developed by private companies, 385 by the police and others by individuals and local governments," Riau Governor Annas Maamun said.

The central government aims to build 67,000 canal dams within two months as the rainy season will end in June or July. It will focus on 2 million hectares in four regencies: Pulang Pisau regency in Central Kalimantan, Ogan Komering Ilir in South Sumatra, Musi Banyuasin in South Sumatra and Meranti in Riau.

"The cost of restoration is not cheap. There are two estimations -- the World Bank said it would require US$500 per hectare and CIFOR said $3,000 per hectare to restore the peatland over five years, while the government estimates it will take something between that," BRG chairman Nazir Foead told thejakartapost.com.

The canal dams and embung (ponds of stagnant water) need to be constructed for water stocks. When peatland is on fire, water can be obtained quickly. (bbn)

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