Human Dimension of Tropical Peatland

Center for International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatland (CIMTROP), University of Palangka Raya

Jl. Yos Sudarso, Kampus UNPAR Tunjung Nyahu, Palangka Raya 73111, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia





International Symposium & Workshop

Restoration and Wise Use of Tropical Peatland:

“Problems of Biodiversity, Fire, Poverty and Water Management”

Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan INDONESIA, 22-25 September 2005



An international symposium and workshop will be held at Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan in Indonesia.  It will take place on the 22nd to 25th September 2005.  The theme of the symposium and workshop is "Restoration and Wise Use of Tropical Peatland: Problems of Biodiversity, Fire, Poverty and Water Management".



Tropical peatland covers approximately 45 million hectares, or 12%, of the global peatland resource by area. Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam contain nearly 70%. Indonesia, with 22 Mha has about one half of the total area of peat in the tropical zone. Natural peat swamps in SE Asia are recognized as important reservoirs of biodiversity and scientific information and they exhibit a range of important ecological and natural resource functions. Peat swamp forests are the last refuges for several rare and endangered animals, especially orang-utan, while streams and rivers draining from peatlands are important fish habitats. In their natural state tropical peatlands are carbon sinks and stores, but drainage and forest clearance rapidly converts them to carbon sources. Rapid population growth, deterioration of existing land, especially owing to erosion and increasing competition from industry and urbanization, are exerting continuous pressure for peatland development. However, local communities that depend on this ecosystem for cash income are experiencing poverty. In the last 30-40 years, tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia have been subjected to increasing pressure from systematic logging as dry land forest has become depleted and, more destructively, land conversion for human settlement and agriculture. The latter involves clear felling of the forest followed by land drainage and crop planting. The legacy of the ill-fated Mega Rice Project (MRP) is a treeless, non-productive, degraded, peat-covered landscape. The network of over 4600 km of malfunctioning drainage and irrigation channels has resulted in rapidly oxidising peat, an impoverished biodiversity, a terrain susceptible to subsidence and outbreaks of large-scale fires in the dry season and flooding in the rainy season. The adjacent large, forested peatland catchment, centred on the Sebangau River, has been subjected to intensive illegal logging since 1998 with disastrous effects upon this newly designated National Park. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of kilometres of timber extraction canals have been excavated across the surface of this landscape destroying its hydrological integrity by causing excessive and rapid drainage. The only way of reversing these impacts is to maintain a high water level, by retarding the rate of water flow using dams and other forms of obstruction, which must be carried out as part of a holistic restoration implementation strategy that addresses the problems of biodiversity, fire, poverty and water management.



This international symposium and workshop forms an important part of the EU funded RESTORPEAT Project and it will address problems of restoration of large expanses of tropical peatland by focusing on field techniques for fire control and water management. These will be linked to sustainable livelihoods of local people in order to alleviate poverty and reduce natural resources and environmental degradation. It will provide an important forum where experts in peatland restoration from the Boreal and Temperate zones can relate their experiences and methods to those involved in tackling the enormous problems of restoration of tropical peatland. The workshop will assess the situation and incorporate the views of specialists in biodiversity maintenance, water management, fire control and poverty reduction into a holistic approach to tackle these critical issues.



Scientists, technologists, agronomists, foresters, socio-economists, land managers, planners, politicians, community leaders, funding organisations, NGOs and others.



1.        Embassy of Finland, Jakarta

2.        The Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (KNIP Small-Scale Nature Initiatives)

3.        U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, Great Apes Conservation Fund

4.        EU RESTORPEAT Project (Vapo, Finland, UNPAR, and BPPT, Indonesia)



.        EU INCO RESTORPEAT Partnership

.        Kalimantan Tropical Peat Swamp Forest Research Project (KALTROP)

.        Centre for International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatland (CIMTROP)

.        Indonesian Agency for the Assessment and Implementation of Technology (BPPT)

.        Centre for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SUSTAIN), University of Leicester, UK

.        Centre for Environmental Management (CEM), University of Nottingham, UK

.        Alterra Research Centre, University of Wageningen, The Netherlands

.        International Peat Society

.        Indonesian Peat Association

10.     Provincial Government of Central Kalimantan

11.     Regency Governments of Kapuas, Pulang Pisau, Kasongan and Palangka Raya, Indonesia



-        CIMTROP, University of Palangka Raya (Organising Committee Chairman: Ir. Suwido Limin, MS),

-        Indonesian Peat Association (International Peat Society)



Approximately 250




Thursday, 22 September: International Symposium

-        Opening ceremony

-        Keynote International and National speakers

-        Welcome reception


Friday, 23 September: Workshop Session 1: Problem Assessment and Research Gaps

-        Breakout sessions for the key topics of fire, water and poverty

-        Action Planning

-        Plenary


Saturday, 24 September: Workshop Session 2: Field excursion – Problem Inspection

-        Site visits to Kalampangan (Block C, former Mega Rice Project) and Natural

-        Laboratory (Sebangau catchment)

-        Focus groups on key topics of fire, water and poverty

-        Symposium/workshop dinner


Sunday, 25 September: Workshop Session 3: Problem review and recommendations

-        Assessment of the problems confronting restoration of tropical peatland

-        Action plans for dealing with fire, water management and poverty; Goals and timelines



Impacts of the Mega Rice Project, locally and globally

Biodiversity of peat swamp forest

Natural resource functions of tropical peatland

Problems of fire control on tropical peatland

Problems of water management on tropical peatland

Problems of illegal logging and other resource exploitation on tropical peatland

Problems for sustainable livelihoods on and around tropical peatland

Lessons on peatland restoration from Boreal and Temperate zones

Proposals for future land use in the Mega Rice Project area

Wise use principles for sustainable management of tropical peatland

Problems of rehabilitating the Mega Rice Project area: options, constraints and dangers

Problems facing the new Sebangau National Park

Other relevant topics




Presentations at the international symposium are by invitation only but short papers within the scope of the four workshop breakout sessions are welcomed.



Titles of short papers (max 15 minutes presentation time) and abstracts of no more than 100 words should be sent to Professor Jack Rieley, University of Nottingham, UK by Email to to arrive no later than 31st July 2005. These should include the Email address of the communicating author.




It is intended these will be published as soon as possible after the event. Symposium and workshop presenters should provide a copy of their presentations (maximum 1500 words), in electronic format (Microsoft Word) before the start of the meetings.



Professor Jack Rieley, Director Kalimantan Tropical Peat Swamp Forest Research Programme


Centre for Environmental Management

School of Geography

University of Nottingham


United Kingdom


Phone: +44 (0) 115 9515449

Fax: +44 (0) 115 9515249

Email:  or


First circular in PDF file!