Frequently Asked Questions

Indonesia has approximately 50 per cent of the world’s tropical peatlands, which cover roughly 22 million hectares and are distributed across the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Papua. Around 50 per cent of the peatlands in Sumatra and Kalimantan are currently managed by smallholders or industrial plantation companies that cultivate dryland species such as oil palm, acacia and food crops. Whereas undisturbed peatlands are water-logged ecosystems that resist fire under most circumstances, peatlands that are drained by canals are highly flammable. To learn more about the issue of drainage and the restoration of degraded peatlands, please see the FAQ’s.

Peat Swamp Forests

Indonesian Peat Swamp Forests (PSF) provide important local and global benefits. However, their drainage and conversion into agricultural lands causes considerable and irreversible environmental, social and economic damage. In Indonesia, approximately 2.5 million hectares of PSF have already been converted into oil palm, rubber and timber plantations. A further 2.5 million hectares of PSF has been deforested and is cultivated by smallholder farmers. Conversion from PSF to agriculture, either by smallholders or agro-industry, leads to long-term massive emissions of greenhouse gases. For this reason, the sustainable management of PSF is a challenge that the Government of Indonesia is taking seriously; as evidenced by recent high-level efforts to improve the management and conservation of the remaining peat swamp forests, prevent forest fires and restore degraded peatlands. 


Our research will contribute solutions to four big challenges confronting Indonesia:

Nature Based Solutions

Peatlands are one of the world’s most valuable ecosystems, protecting biodiversity and preventing floods. Although they only cover 3% of the global land surface, peatlands store twice as much carbon as all of the world’s forests. However, global peatland degradation releases nearly 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. In Indonesia, 42% of all greenhouse gas emissions for 2015 were caused by degraded peatlands. Fortunately, nature based interventions such as rewetting and revegetation can provide high impact and low-cost solutions to this problem.