Indonesia: Govt to get locals more involved in peatland restoration

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani The Jakarta Post 10 Nov 16;

The Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) should focus on engaging locals by involving them in its peatland restoration program, experts say.

Korea SG Consulting, a South Korean-based environmental NGO, suggested that Indonesia conduct a socioeconomic survey by interviewing local residents living near the restoration land and involving them in mapping the project before carrying out the restoration.

“Without [local residents], we can’t complete the agenda. We need to know their expectations and what incentives they expect from the government and stakeholders,” Korea SG Consulting general manager Gyeongmin Roh said on Tuesday in a seminar held by the Indonesian government, South Korean Embassy and Korea Forest Agency (KFS).

The seminar was a follow up of an agreement on peatland restoration and forest fire prevention signed by Jakarta and Seoul in May this year.

Roh went on to say that the incentive options could include job creation related to the project, goods for agriculture and forestry and the provision of subsidies. More importantly, he said, the government should also provide an enhancement of the forest fire management system and a community forest.

Indonesia, although seeking to restore all burned or damaged peatland belonging to locals, companies and protected areas across the country, has yet to find any specific approach or method for the restoration.

During a visit to South Korea on May 16, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo signed seven memorandums of understanding (MoUs), which cover maritime issues, the creative industry, corruption, peatland forest restoration, defense technology, special economic zones and the development of energy and mineral research for clean energy.

The President had set a target to restore 2 million hectares of peatland in seven provinces in Kalimantan, Papua and Sumatra by 2020, including 875,000 hectares of peatland that had been burned in a 2015 forest fire.

The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), which promotes sustainable development, encouraged the BRG to work together with the local community to conduct livelihood assessments so that the locals could design their own businesses and be rewarded for their efforts.

“The big issue we have to face is the community center. We have to find a solution for the community, including a business plan, so that it [the restoration] can provide them an additional benefit,” GIZ researcher Berthold Haasler said.

The government admitted it had not done enough to involve the local people in its restoration program.

BRG deputy chairman for planning and cooperation, Budi Wardana, said that the local people often illegally cleared restored peatland just because they were not aware of the government’s program.

They even once damaged the part of the canal blocked by the government because the government had not disseminated information of the canal’s establishment, he said.

“We could learn from the input, including about embracing the local community. After this, we will map out what to do ahead of the restoration project,” Budi said.

“We actually already had a guideline from the [Environment and Forestry] Ministry, yet we do refer to experts and opinions on how to develop the idea, so we will combine all guidelines altogether, including integrating a map for the restoration area,” he added.

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