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Jakarta Post

Small farmers not to blame for peat fires: Walhi

  • Hans Nicholas Jong

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, January 18, 2017   /  07:04 pm
Small farmers not to blame for peat fires: Walhi An MI-8 helicopter of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) discharges a large amount of water on forests and fields in Medang Kampai, Dumai, Riau, on Aug. 9, 2016. The haze from the fire disrupted flights in Pinang Kampai Airport on Aug. 28. (Antara/Rony Muharrman)

After decades of being blamed for the annual peat fires, a team of researchers have found out that small farmers are not responsible for the environmental threat as they have experience in sustainable peatland management.

The team compiled their findings in a book on local wisdom of peatland management, which was launched by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) on Wednesday.

“Until now, the negative stigma attached to indigenous communities and local people was that they were the ones who destroyed our forests. But they are actually the ones who have the knowledge and experience in sustainable peatland management,” Walhi spokesperson Khalisah Wahid said during the launch.

The team of researchers scourged through five provinces South Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan to find out how small farmers managed peatlands without causing fires.

Dwi Nanto from Walhi’s Jambi chapter, for instance, noted how small farmers in three villages in Jambi gathered together to learn how to clear lands without causing massive fires prior to peatland cultivation.

“First, they assessed the condition of the peatland. Then they came up with various solutions before they started to work. This mindset is inherited by subsequent generations,” he said. “And it was ensured that there were no massive fires [caused by the clearing of land].” (evi)