In May 2023, the Gambut Kita team visited a range of project field sites in Pulang Pisau regency in Central Kalimantan, before going on to visit other research sites in South Sumatra. The team included researchers from CSIRO, BRIN, BSI, a number of Australian and Indonesian universities, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) and Yayasan Tambuhak Sinta (YTS).
In Kalimantan, the mining sector has a significant environmental impact on forested lands. For this reason, mining companies that obtain Borrow-to-Use Forest Area Permits (IPPKH) are responsible for carrying out forest rehabilitation of damaged Watershed Areas (DAS).
Gambut Kita recently met with researchers at the University of Palangkaraya who have been working within the project to measure the increased levels of peat
Rattan (Calamus sp.) thrives in the forest gardens of Pilang Village. The vine climbs into the trees and hangs from the upper branches in the elongated shape of a hosepipe. According to Mury Isa (63 years old), a resident of Pilang Village, the vine is ready for harvest even when it is still protected by its green and splendidly thorny skin.
It is widely acknowledged that tropical peatlands play an important role in the global carbon balance. Carbon stocks and fluxes have been the focus of growing research attention as the greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands, as well as their potential to act as carbon sinks, have gained international prominence in forums such as the COP talks and IPCC reports.
Pak Stomo is an elementary school teacher in Tumbang Nusa Village. He owns one hectare of peatland, conveniently located behind his house. In 2015, a great fire swept across his land. Nothing was left standing. “I had planted rubber, rambutan and pineapple. But everything burned, nothing was left,” Stomo recalled.
Pak Ramin is a successful farmer who grows a variety of vegetable crops on his 1.5 hectare farm. Having relocated from Java to Kalimantan, he says that he now leads a more prosperous life than he did in his hometown. But, he had to struggle for decades just to get to this point.
Pilang is a traditional village in the Pulang Pisau regency of Central Kalimantan. Two-thirds of the regency is comprised of peatlands, and Pilang is no exception, with 20,994 hectares out of the total village land area of 28,114 hectares covered by shallow peat soils.
Uduh Abungai (76), one of the oldest members of the village, said he first planted 70 rubber trees on his 0.5 hectare plot in 1960. All of the tree seedlings came from Kalimantan. And like other residents, Pak Uduh continues to plant rubber seedlings every year. He says the new trees can be tapped for latex after seven years.
Having always wanted to grow a mini jelutung (Dyera costulata) plantation in his backyard, Pak Margo says it took him 18 years of trial and error, and a substantial part of his personal finances to learn how to do it properly. But now, at the age of 65, he has finally realized his dream.
Gambut Kita researchers find that most swift-houses can achieve routine production within the first two years, with nest production averaging 0.1 – 0.5 kg per month per swift-house; making it an attractive proposition for farmers who are prepared to take the gamble. But regular problems to anticipate include pests such as geckos and ants, as well as lightning strikes and thieves.
The journey towards becoming an entrepreneur in Kalimantan has been a bitter-sweet one for Yoanes Budiyana (43), an immigrant from Central Java. When Budi first came to Kalimantan he worked as a truck driver for a construction company. In his new environment, Budi struggled to earn enough income to stay afloat. He spent most of his time in his truck, driving long distances on difficult roads to deliver goods to far corners of the province. On one trip, he realized he had never seen a honey vendor by the side of the road, as was commonplace in Java.
Pakis, an edible fern that grows in peatlands and along riverbanks, is a daily source of nutritious meals in Central Kalimantan. In Tumbang Nusa village, people will travel downriver for about an hour just to collect the ferns – and to later serve a bowl of pakis in their kitchen.
Fishing is an activity that runs in the blood of people living along the Kahayan River in Central Kalimantan, and this is especially so in the peatlands to the south of Palangkaraya, the capital city of the province. Most of the people who live in the villages along these river banks usually fish to meet their daily needs, and many of them still catch fish using traditional fish traps.
This November, Yayasan Tambuhak Sinta presented the results of a Value Chain Analysis on the economic potential of Purun for local stakeholders. The presentation took place at the Jabiren Raya District Office and brought together a small group of Purun farmers and weavers from the village, as well as some Purun buyers, local government representatives, and other related parties from Central Kalimantan. A lively discussion ensued about the steps that need to be taken to promote sustainable and peat-friendly livelihoods, particularly with regard to Purun processing in Tumbang Nusa Village.
Fire Danger Rating Systems (FDRS) are used around the world to help predict and prevent wildfires. Forest and land fires are a severe problem in Indonesia, with smoke and haze production exacerbated by the country’s extensive tropical peatlands, many of which are drained and burn almost annually (Graham, 2021). Thus, major fire events are a recurrent problem for Indonesia, especially in peatlands when the peat itself ignites.