Revitalisation of wetland livelihoods requires the implementation of alternative land-use systems that will allow both agriculture and forestry to thrive under wet conditions. These systems must optimize the use of productive species that are adapted to wetlands, and must also provide viable economic development prospects for local people including investment from the carbon sector.

Wet and healthy peatlands are the only sustainable pathway to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fires and peatland degradation, and preventing the loss of livelihoods. Fortunately, recent research shows that integrated wetland production systems can combine the production of different types of food, fuel, fibre and forest products, and create income-generating practices that promote resilience.

Combinations of different livelihood sources can help in overcoming barriers to adoption and allow income generation for example while waiting for species to grow. More than eighty native plant species growing on Indonesian peatlands have been identified with potential for major economic uses. These ‘paludiculture’ species are trees that can produce useful products such as fruits, nuts or latex. 

Paludiculture crop species also include many commercial hardwoods and non-timber forest product (NTFP) species such as Jelutong (Dyera polyphylla), Tengkawang (Shorea spp.), Rattan (Calamus spp.) and Sago. Paludiculture cash crops can generate a wide range of commodities including food, feed, fibre and fuel, as well as valuable timber and other raw materials for a variety of purposes. Cultivating these native wetland species can improve village livelihoods, and bring important environmental benefits such as better water quality, decreased fire frequency and higher biodiversity.

This ‘paludiculture’ approach is considered to be one of the key approaches that can be undertaken in revitalisation programs, as it can be conducted in combination with full rewetting programs. Practices such as low-intensity fishing, small-scale livestock raising, small-scale timber production, and many other activities also offer income-generating opportunities. 

Peat swamp fisheries can also make an important contribution to food security and provide plentiful sources of protein from locally-adapted fish species. Harvesting of non-timber forest products from restored or regenerated peat swamp forests may also add to local livelihoods, but developing this will take time as most peat swamp forests are currently under threat or severely degraded.