Indonesia searches for a better peat mapping method

Antara 3 Feb 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) -The Indonesian government, through the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG) and with the support of David and Lucile Packard Foundation, has launched the Indonesian Peat Prize, a competition to search the best mapping method for peat land.

The prize comprises one million dollar.

"It is important to find a methodology that helps achieve a certainty regarding data management related to Indonesias peat, a requirement for improving the welfare and tackle climate change," Minister of Environment and Forest, Siti Nurbaya, said as she launched the Indonesian Peat Prize, together with the Minister of Environment of Norway at the Climate Festival here on Tuesday.

She said Indonesias peat land area reaches more than 20 million hectares. In the context of climate change, the greatest emissions from forest and land fires come from peat, yet peat is able to store a very large amount of carbon.

Head of BIG, Priyadi Kardono, said the initial idea of the competition followed the forest and land fires spread over 2.1 million hectares in 2015.

In addition, this competition found encouragement, thanks to the commitment of President Joko Widodo at the High-Level Conference on Climate Change Conferences of Parties (COP21) in Paris to address land and forest fires as well as reduce emissions through good management.

BIG has had an indicative map of Indonesias peatland drawn to a scale of 1:250,000. However, according to him, it would be difficult to manage peat land in a better way without a more detailed map drawn to a scale of 1: 5000 to 1: 50,000.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian director of World Resources Institute (WRI), Tjokorda Nirarta Samadhi, said the Indonesian Peat Prize is an ambitious and collaborative competition to arrive at a peat land mapping method which is more accurate and faster to determine the extent and thickness of peat lands in Indonesia.

The peat land management needs to be done properly because carbon emissions from peat decomposition and peat fires account for 42 percent of all emissions in Indonesia.


Lack of high-resolution peatland map hinders restoration
Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post 3 Feb 16;

The government’s plan to restore at least 2 million hectares of peatland destroyed through decades of mismanagement by oil palm plantations will likely face a setback, especially on account of a lack of high-resolution peatland maps.

Geospatial Information Agency (BIG) head Priyadi Kardono said on Tuesday that the newly established Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) would have to wait for the agency to boost the resolution of the national peatland map before it could kick off the restoration in four priority areas.

“For the four peatland areas [planned to be restored first by the BRG], we will boost the resolution of the map to 1:5,000,” Priyadi said in Jakarta, adding that BIG expected to finish the map by the end of the year.

He said that the BIG would soon begin mapping the four peatland areas severely damaged by this year’s forest fires: Pulang Pisau regency in Central Kalimantan, Ogan Komering Ilir regency and Musi Banyuasin regency, both in South Sumatra and Meranti regency in Riau, seeing as how the four areas were prioritized by the government to be restored.

BIG’s thematic geospatial information deputy, Nurwadjedi Fahmi, said that the current national peatland map had a scale of 1:250,000.

“Our current peatland map is a compilation of various maps, obtained mostly from desk study. Our field survey [to map peatland] needs improvement, covering only around 5 percent [of the country’s total peatland area]. So its not surprising that our map lacks in accuracy,” he said on Tuesday. “That’s why our map only has a resolution of 1:250,000.”

The government plans to restore damaged protected-category peatland by pumping in sufficient water to restore dampness.

If a peatland area has been taken over by oil palm trees, the government plans to begin the restoration by blocking the canals that are built by palm oil producers to drain all the water out from the peatland.

Such a low quality map will make it difficult for BRG to carry out its job, a crucial element of the government’s attempt to combat the annual forest fires.

“If you want to manage peatland with a map that lacks detail, it will be difficult. How can you make a good canal blocking if you don’t know the contour [of the area]? In which direction the water will go?” Priyadi said.

A more detailed map is needed to determine the category of individual peatland areas, separating them into either protected or cultivated.

To boost the resolution of the map, BIG plans to use light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology, which is more expensive than using satellite images.

“If we use a high-resolution satellite image like IKONOS, we still couldn’t display three dimensional images. That’s why we’re using LiDAR,” Nurwadjedi said.

The cost of mapping using LiDAR is estimated to be much higher than using satellites.

BIG has also launched a competition called the Indonesian Peat Prize, aiming to find a more accurate and faster way to map the extent and thickness of peatland.

The winner of the competition, to be announced in fall 2017, will receive a US$1 million prize. The winner’s method will be used to revise the national standard for mapping Indonesian peatland.

BRG head Nazir Foead said on Tuesday that his agency would use the current map despite its poor resolution.

“I have to work with the existing map because I can’t wait until 2017,” he said.

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