Indonesia: Restoration promised for burned peat lands across the country

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 5 Sep 16;

All burned or damaged peat lands belonging to locals, companies and protected areas across Indonesia will be restored to maintain their natural functions, an expert has said.

Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) head Nazir Foead said 875,000 hectares of peat lands in areas across Indonesia had been burned in 2015 and they must be restored.

“Initially, the restoration was allocated for 2 million hectares of peat lands in seven provinces in Kalimantan, Papua and Sumatra. However, BRG cannot close its eyes to burned peat lands outside the targeted locations,” he said on Monday.

In Riau, said Nazir, citing an example, restoration activities for the first year of BRG’s project were actually allocated to the Meranti Islands regency. The agency later expanded the coverage of its restoration work to Rimbo Panjang in the Kampar regency.

“Our consideration is the fact that peat lands in this area are routinely burned every year and the smoke resulting from the fires affects flights in Pekanbaru,” he said.

“Expanded restorations have also been conducted in several peat lands near airports in Kalimantan. Thus, working locations for peat land restoration in those seven provinces are actually flexible,” he went on.

Nazir said BRG was currently preparing regulations on peat land recovery, which aimed to push all companies to restore damaged peat lands in their concession areas.

He further said the obedience of companies to the regulation to protect and maintain the canal water level at about 30 centimeters below the land surface would be continuously monitored via special censor equipment connected automatically and in real time to servers at the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT).

Nazir said the compliance of companies to carry out restoration would also be continuously monitored. “The state has a right to direct and monitor companies. Any indiscipline will yield sanctions.” (ebf)

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