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Jakarta Post

BRG tests concrete canal dams in peatland rewetting efforts

  • Yulia Savitri

    The Jakarta Post

Palembang, South Sumatra   /   Tue, September 15, 2020   /   05:32 pm
BRG tests concrete canal dams in peatland rewetting efforts Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) head Nazir Foead inspects a canal dam made of concrete canvas during a visit to a peatland rewetting infrastructure in Ogan Komering Ilir regency, South Sumatra on Sept. 9. (JP/Yulia Savitri )

The Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) conducted the first trial of concrete canal dams in peatlands in South Sumatra.

The innovation, made using concrete canvas, is believed to last longer than its wooden counterpart. Canal blocking is one of many methods to rewet dried peatlands.

“Wood is more susceptible to decaying if [continuously] exposed to water. This new kind of canal dam is expected to last over a dozen years,” BRG head Nazir Foead said during a visit to a peatland rewetting project in Ogan Komering Ilir regency on Sept. 9.

He claimed the infrastructure was also easy to build, as it only took one to four days to build this kind of dam. It could also be constructed by local residents, he said.

Read also: Residents’ participation vital in Jambi peatland restoration: BRG

Experts involved in the research, Cut Avita, said concrete canvas was different from conventional concrete. “It is cheaper as one dam only costs Rp 40 million [US$2,690].”

However, Nazir said not every dam would be built using this approach, as authorities would need to take canal size and budget constraints into consideration.

Studies show canal blocking to be one effective method to rewet peatlands to prevent them from burning, which often leads to vast wildfires. Authorities block canals previously made by farmers or loggers to transport wood, thus raising the water level in the peatland.

In the rewetting process, authorities and researchers would need to map the peatland hydrological area (KHG) to determine which canals should be blocked permanently.

Between 2017 and 2019, the BRG backfilled 37 canals as well as constructing 774 canal dams and 331 deep wells as part of its efforts to rewet peatland across the country. This year, the agency aims to maintain the existing infrastructure as well as constructing 52 canal dams and backfilling 20 other canals. (dpk)