POLICY Research

How can good policy research contribute to the development and implementation of good practice on peatland restoration?

Our policy researchers are investigating the institutional, socio-economic and policy implications of peatland restoration and related fire prevention initiatives and policies with the aim of providing a substantial help to the Government of Indonesia to improve existing policies, in order to create a more conducive atmosphere towards reducing peat fires. The policy research includes the broad set of community and state governance arrangements shaping changing land uses in peat areas and which continue to make these areas susceptible to fire.

The Indonesian government is seeking to address uncontrolled peat fires and restore degraded peatland. Legislative actions have included bans on the building of drainage canals and the use of fire in land management, as well as moratoriums on granting new licences related to peatland conversion. In 2016, the major fire events of the previous year triggered the establishment of the National Peatland Restoration Agency, Badan Restorasi Gambut (BRG), with the mandate to facilitate and restore two million hectares of degraded peatland by 2021. Despite these activities, peatland fires still occur every year.

The main objective of our policy research is to understand and improve the community, institutional, social and policy aspects of peatland restoration and fire prevention initiatives and policies. Key activities include: Policy analysis; Review of existing policies and regulations and options for new policies; Research on policy analysis regarding fire and peatland management and restoration; Assessment of cost-effectiveness and equity of different peatland restoration practices; Economic analysis, cost-benefit analysis, finding the most efficient approach to restoration; Developing further policy options and follow up actions to prevent fires and support restoration; and analysis of the institutional arrangements, social processes and land use practices and dynamics shaping peatland outcomes.

This work informs the objective of understanding institutions, governance and decision making, which is central to the project. This work also aims to provide a broader assessment of the socio-ecological fit of current policies to the socio-ecological context to complement research on KPHs, livelihoods, peat restoration and fire prevention.

A series of policy dialogue events will explore the policy implications of the project’s key research findings on peatland fire prevention and restoration. These events will bring together a select cohort of senior policy-makers and policy-influencers for a deliberative forum with the project’s lead scientists and ACIAR research program managers. Participants will be encouraged to reflect on policy coordination, and whether and how the project outputs may be actioned through policy change. The intended outcomes of the policy dialogue are for policy-makers in the arena of forest and land fires to revise the current ‘no burning’ policy to be much more targeted such that fires are applied in the right season, on mineral soils only, and by smallholders who can apply proven methods of controlling fire.

For policy-makers in the second arena of peatland rehabilitation, the intended outcome is the rehabilitation of peatland environments, which minimizes negative impacts on livelihoods, and preferably provides positive benefits to communities. It is hoped that our research findings will inform policy change across the relevant Ministries and levels, and that the dialogue deliberations will also enable the project’s lead researchers to refine the project’s policy-related recommendations, paving the way for more effective fire reduction strategies and improved peatland restoration policy and implementation, better harmonization of KPH activities in the context of fire prevention and suppression, better peatland management, and positive impacts on community well-being and productivity.