Pantau Gambut
Annual Report

2018

As part of Pantau Gambut’s contribution in supporting the successful execution of peatland restoration in Indonesia, we had been actively monitoring the implementation of various peatland restoration policies.

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Restoration Pledges

In the past 2 years we have formulated and monitored 7 pledges by the government to protect and restore peatland at the local and national levels. These pledges are:

On top of the 7 pledges above, we added an incidental pledge, for an Asian Games free of smoke from forest and land fires. This measure is based on a directive by President Joko Widodo to all parties to ensure that the Games, which lasted from 18 August to 2 September 2018, would not be disrupted by the fires.

Pantau Gambut has looked deeply into the enforcement of the 7 pledges related to the protection and restoration of peatland.

The Pledges in Brief

We have noted progress in 3 out of 7 pledges to restore peatland, namely the restoration of 2 million hectares of peatland proposed by President Joko Widodo, a ban on peatland clearing enacted by Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, as well as a moratorium on new permits pending improvements to the administration of primary forests and peatlands pledged by the President.

The Peatland Restoration Agency (Badan Restorasi Gambut/BRG) claimed that it has managed to restore 676,901 hectares of peatland as of the end of 2018, from its target of 2 million hectares between 2016-2020. The mentioned hectares have yet to include peat restoration in companies’ working areas.

Companies holding business permits are responsible for restoration of peatlands in concession areas. Implementation and monitoring of peatland restoration activities within concession areas are major hurdles to the government’s 2 million hectares peatland restoration plans. There are no significant progresses in other pledges. In addition, Pantau Gambut considered one of the pledges is unfulfilled following a bribery case implicating its initiator, former governor of Jambi, Zumi Zola, during his term in office.

The pledges’ progresses as are summarized as follows:

Pledge Actor Progress as of May 2019
Restoration of 2 million hectares of peatland in 5 years Actor: President
  • 676,901 hectares of peatlands restored
Peatland clearing ban Actor: Minister of Environment and Forestry
  • After the clearing ban, land clearing still occurred, for example in PHU Lamandau river - Arut river in South Kalimantan, TN Sebangau, and by PT Mohairson in West Kalimantan
  • Lack of clarity and transparency on RKU (Rencana Kegiatan Usaha) revision by companies which operate on peat areas prioritized for restoration.
Suspension of new permits & improvement of primary natural forest and peatland governance Actor: President Issuance of PIPPIB Revision XV, Presidential Instruction on oil palm plantation moratorium
Total protection of peatlands and peatland permit review Actor: President -
Total protection of natural forests, peatlands, and coastal areas Actor: President Founding of Tropical Peatland Research Center
Prohibition of peatland clearing and exploitation for commercial forestry and plantations Actor: Minister of Agriculture and Land Planning -
Recommendation to revoke the licenses of companies that fail to take steps to prevent fires Actor: (Former) Governor of Jambi
  • Regional regulation no. 2/2016 regarding forest and land fire prevention and control
  • The regional government needs to take up the pledge now that the former governor who initiated the pledge is embroiled in a corruption case.
Forest fire free Asian Games Actor: President
  • Well coordinated forest and land fire management across agencies
  • Minimal hotspots and fires observed in a number of areas

Data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry

Data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry (KLHK) has shown that Indonesia’s peatland ecosystem totaled over 24 million hectares spread throughout Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua. Of this land, only 181.142 hectares remained in pristine condition. Millions of hectares of peatland, particularly in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua, have been damaged within different severity levels, from light to heavy damage.

Undamaged Mild Damage Moderate Damage Severe Damage Very Severe Damage Total
Sumatera 34,261 6,917,767 1,617,199 574,762 16,124 9,160,113
Kalimantan 52,883 7,402,969 762,219 165,449 7,411 8,390,931
Sulawesi 268 42,411 14,908 2,573 0 60,160
Kalimantan 93,730 6,405,442 23,274 2,939 80 6,525,465
Total 181,142 20,768,589 2,417,600 745,723 23,615 24,136,669

Data source: The State of Indonesia Forest 2018, KLHK

Monitoring and Protecting Peatlands in 2018

The Pantau Gambut Local Networks or Simpul Jaringan (SJ) is spread across 8 provinces (7 provinces earmarked for peatland restoration and West Papua). Throughout 2018, they have finetuned their local activities to match the respective priorities of each province as agreed upon by all parties at the beginning of the year.

  • Local Networks in Sumatra directly monitored the implementation of the government’s policy to restore 2 million hectares of peatland by 2020.
  • Local Networks in Kalimantan carried out analyses of proposed budgets and monitored peatland restoration efforts in concession areas.
  • Local Networks in the provinces of Papua and West Papua primarily focused on protecting the peatlands’ ecosystems and the implementation of the moratorium on new permits.

Monitoring Peatland Restoration in Sumatra

Sumatra is known to have the most extensive peatland ecosystem in Indonesia. The island’s peatland also bore the brunt of the damage to this particular ecosystem nationwide. Jambi, Riau and South Sumatra are among the provinces prioritized in the restoration of 2 million hectares of peatland. The graphics below from the Peatland Restoration Agency show the progress of peat restoration:

Estimates for these figures must take into account their effects on the ground. Monitoring efforts by Pantau Gambut in Sumatera area enlist the following findings*:

  1. Implementation of peatland restoration
    • The construction of rewetting infrastructure was not performed according to the plan. Some constructed infrastructure has been damaged.
    • Incomplete FPIC process in restoring peatlands has negative effects on the environment and the lives of local people.
  2. Forest and land fires
    • Forest and land fires still occurred in and around peatlands as well as in areas under the moratorium of permit issuance and clearing.
    • Efforts to put out the forest and land fires during the Asian Games managed to keep the smoke and flames from disrupting the event.
  3. Moratorium
    • Pantau Gambut local network in Riau reported that, based on analysis, no new business permits were issued in the province. However, it raised alarm on illicit practices where a number of palm oil companies have been expanding their areas by offering compensation to local smallholders instead of clearing new plots of land.
* Monitoring was carried out within a limited area. Please read the full report for more information.

Monitoring Peatland Restoration in Kalimantan

The damage to the peatland ecosystem in Kalimantan ranged from light to heavy. Three provinces on the island, namely West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan, have been earmarked for the government program to restore 2 million hectares of peatland. The figures below show the scope of restoration efforts according to data from the Peatland Restoration Agency or BRG.

Estimates for these figures must take into account their effects on the ground. Monitoring efforts by Pantau Gambut in Kalimantan area enlist the following findings*:

  1. Implementation of peatland restoration
    • The construction of rewetting infrastructure was not performed according to the plan.
    • Incomplete FPIC process in restoring peatlands has negative effects on the environment and the lives of local people.
  2. Forest and land fires
    • Forest and land fires still occurred in Kalimantan. The fires were mostly caused by land clearing.
  3. Budget analysis of peatland restoration
    • The province of West Kalimantan has allocated Rp. 42,305,427,000 to restore peatlands.
    • To date, only 10% of deep wells have been built.
  4. Peatland restoration in concession areas
    • Monitoring of the implementation of peatland restoration by companies in their respective concession areas has become the main focus of Pantau Gambut local networks in South Kalimantan.
* Monitoring was carried out within a limited area. Please read the full report for more information.

Monitoring Peatland Restoration in Papua

Papua is one of the provinces designated for the government’s goal to restore 2 million hectares of peatland. While about 38,753 hectares of peatland have been designated for restoration, data from the BRG revealed that only 1,100 hectares of peatland have been restored.

Progress in wider areas must take into account their effects on the ground. Pantau Gambut carried out analysis and ground-check in Papua and West Papua peatlands to come up with the following findings*:

  1. Moratorium
    • Pantau Gambut local network in Papua identified peatland clearing triggered by inaccurate land surveys.
    • Pantau Gambut local network in West Papua discovered a large area of peatlands were part of concession areas.
  1. Forest and land fires
    • Based on spatial analysis during the peak of dry season in 2018, numerous fires in Papua and West Papua occurred in areas part of moratorium but not prioritized for restoration.
* Monitoring was carried out within a limited area. Please read the full report for more information.

Public Narratives

Pantau Gambut has been receiving various stories and reports from the public about the primary issue of peatland restoration and the organization’s activities throughout 2018. Below are the stories of the affected individuals, many of them are overlooked by the government:

Read more stories

Peatlands outside the prioritized Peat Hydrological Unit
This topic touches on forest fires in peatlands that are not considered a priority for restoration, and is thus difficult to restore or maintain the infrastructure needed to do so.
Social Forestry
The social forestry scheme raises local communities’ hopes for a more sustainable restoration as well as improving the economic wellbeing of local communities.
Conflicts Between Local Communities and Concession Holders
This topic covers conflicts that often occurred during land conversion.

Recommendations

Below are a number of recommendations for the improvement of peatland ecosystem restoration and protection, based on Pantau Gambut field findings.

Issues Recommendations
The implementation of peatland restoration
  • The need for research related to analysis on the potential effects of peatland restoration on the lives of local communities.
    The analysis of the effects of peatland restoration need to be carried out at the beginning of the initiative to avoid grievances from the local people such as those on the Sungai Terap village in Jambi. Residents living in the village filed complaints after canal blocks disrupted their plots for crops. Analysis of the potential effects of these measures can help the authorities anticipate negative impacts to the people, such as by encouraging the locals to diversify their economic livelihoods.
  • The need for indicators of restored peat that are scientifically proven.
    Until today, the achievement of recovery goals has been measured by the increasing areas of restored peatland. However, findings in the field showed that some of the infrastructure to restore peatland have been damaged, while their effects on the peatland ecosystem remain unknown. More indicators are needed to show that the affected peatland has recovered or on the road to recovery, instead of making them mere checklists.
  • A need to improve the readiness and implementation process to restore peatland through a supporting self-management scheme.
    For example, the criteria to select members of community groups should not be solely based on their administrative fitness, but also their quality and relevant expertise in carrying out the groups’ work.
Strengthening coordination between institutions
  • We still see the need to increase coordination among institutions carrying out peatland restoration activities, including the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), Provincial Administrations, Subnational Peatland Restoration Teams (TRGD), and other provincial level services, particularly those involved in peatland restoration through co-administration schemes.
    On February 18, 2019, the Environment and Forestry Ministry issued a Ministerial Regulation No.P.6/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/2/2019 regarding co-administration of environmental and peatland restoration affairs for the 2019 fiscal year to the Governors of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and Papua. The issuing of this co-administration regulation for 2019 required all parties involved to have the vision and understanding to restore peatland so as to carry out the program and its budget efficiently and in accordance with its targets. This can be reached through various training agendas that are held by the BRG and the Environment and Forestry Ministry. The procedures can also be used as modules or standard techniques to restore peatlands.
  • Highlight the need to improve and increase oversight in carrying out peatland restoration work, particularly under the self-managing co-administrative scheme by community group.
    Using technological innovations to directly monitor peatland restoration efforts in real time is one of the means to increase oversight.
Budget distribution
  • Distribute the budget efficiently at the beginning of the year to ensure that peatland restoration activities that are co-administered can be carried out according to plan.
Data transparency
  • Call on the Environment and Forestry Ministry as well as the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) to disclose their achievements in restoring peatland.
    The BRG announced that up to 679,901 hectares of peatland has been restored from the 2016 - 2018 period. While details of the information on this peatland restoration has been limited to location, there has yet to be information on what measures have been taken. On the other hand, the Environment and Forestry Ministry has announced that as of 2018 it has restored over 3.1 million hectares of peatland ecosystem by rewetting lands on concession and non-concession areas. Detailed information about the location of the activities and the type of intervention that has been taken is important so that the public can understand what has been achieved and determine the effects from the peatland restoration that has been carried out.
  • Highlight the need for a participatory monitoring system to ensure peatland restoration in concession areas.
    Public participation can be used to pressure concession holders to carry out their peatland restoration obligations.
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