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Fires in the Peatlands



Fires in the wetlands/ peatlands of Indonesia: Problem and solutions.
Powerpoint Presentation, October 2004.
Chokkalingam, U. and Suyanto.

PDF Complete file : English (size 2.7 MB)

This relates to the work done by Unna Chokkalingam, Suyanto and others from CIFOR and ICRAF as part of the ‘Underlying causes and impacts of fires in Indonesia’ project funded by the European Union, the Government of Japan and ACIAR.

The problem:
Indonesia’s fire problem is largely related to burning peat vegetation and peat soils. Indonesia has large peatlands valuable for their forest biodiversity, carbon storage, hydrological functions and fisheries. These last frontiers are under heavy development and population pressures. Widespread fires are increasingly frequent in peatlands, with about 2.1 million ha burning in the 1997/98 El Niño event and drained peatlands becoming major annual fire flashpoints. Peatland fires have larger environmental impacts than dryland fires, generating thick smoke and haze and carbon emissions. Besides, these areas are difficult to access, making it hard to control and suppress fires. They are also difficult to maintain in sustainable alternative land use and to restore following degradation. Once opened up and degraded, they tend to be subject to further human disturbance and become a long-term, persistent fire problem.

Joint CIFOR/ICRAF research was undertaken to identify the:

    1. Patterns and causes of fires in El Niño and non El Niño years.
    2. Impacts on forest resources, biodiversity, carbon & local livelihoods.
    3. Policy recommendations to reduce the unwanted fires & negative impacts.

Detailed analysis of peatland sites was undertaken in South Sumatra, Lampung, and East Kalimantan. Multiple stakeholders from Sumatran peatlands shared their perspectives during a workshop in December 2003. The site-level assessments included: a) land cover classifications, fire mapping and analysis; b) field surveys for vegetation, soils, hydrology, land use and fire history; and c) socio-economic surveys in the villages for land use and livelihood change. Causes and impacts of the fires as well as possible solutions and policy recommendations are discussed in detail in the publications.

A study of the history and stratigraphy of the Mahakam peatlands in East Kalimantan shows that fire has occurred throughout the area’s history. However, fires occurred earlier and more frequently in sites accessible from waterways, and extensive lakes have formed with floodplains being burnt down to the water table or below. Major peatland fires may have occurred only within the last few centuries.

Three additional papers are being prepared on how fires affect biodiversity, and carbon stocks and emissions at the peatland study sites. Severe and frequent burning in the recent past has rapidly transformed mature, high mixed-species forests into sedge-grasslands, scrub, savannahs and open-to-dense, mono-specific stands of fast-growing, fire-resistant species. Species composition and structure are primarily related to fire frequency, peat depth and flooding. Burnt forests and open landscapes are highly susceptible to widespread, repeated fires in dry years and further simplification of species composition and structure. Partially disturbed, remote forests have a good chance of recovering in the absence of repeated fire.




U Chokkalingam, Suyanto, R Pandu Permana, Iwan Kurniawan, Josni Mannes, Andy Darmawan, Noviana Khususyiah and RH Susanto. 2007. Community fire use, resource change and livelihood impacts: The downward spiral in the wetlands of southern Sumatra. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 12: 75-100. The original publication is available at Online Date Friday, October 06, 2006.
e-files PDF Complete file : English (size 2.3 MB)
Hope, G., Chokkalingam, U. and Anwar, S. 2005. The stratigraphy and fire history of the Kutai Peatlands, Kalimantan, Indonesia. Quaternary Research 64: 407-417.
abstract : English
Chokkalingam, U.; Kurniawan, I.; Ruchiat, Y. 2005. Fire, livelihoods, and environmental change in the middle Mahakam peatlands, East Kalimantan. Ecology and Society 10(1): 26
Suyanto, S.; Chokkalingam, U.; Wibowo, P.; eds. 2004. Kebakaran di lahan rawa/gambut di Sumatera: masalah dan solusi. Prosiding semiloka, Palembang, Sumatera Selatan, 10 - 11 Desember 2003. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. 175p.
e-files PDF Complete file : Indonesian/ English Mix (size 4.3 MB)
Chokkalingam, U. 2004. Fires in the middle Mahakam peatlands: balancing livelihoods and conservation. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. CIFOR Fire Brief No. 1. 4p.
e-files PDF Complete file : English(size 1.1 MB)
Chokkalingam, U. 2004. Kebakaran di lahan gambut Mahakam tengah: keselarasan antara mata pencaharian dan konservasi. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. CIFOR Fire Brief No. 2. 4p.
e-files PDF Complete file : Indonesian (size 1.0 MB)
Chokkalingam, U.; Suyanto, S. 2004. Fire, livelihoods and environmental degradation in the wetlands of Indonesia: a vicious cycle. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. CIFOR Fire Brief No. 3. 4p.
e-files PDF Complete file : English(size 468 KB)
Chokkalingam, U.; Suyanto, S. 2004. Kebakaran, mata pencaharian, dan kerusakan lingkungan pada lahan basah di Indonesia: lingkaran yang tiada berujung pangkal. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. CIFOR Fire Brief No. 4. 4p.
e-files PDF Complete file : Indonesian (size 136 KB)
S. Suyanto and N. Khususiyah. 2004. Community poverty and dependency on natural resources: a grass-root cause of fire in South Sumatra (Kemiskinan masyarakat dan ketergantungan pada sumberdaya alam: sebuah akar penyebab kebakaran di Sumatra Selatan).  Keynote paper on Community Development Workshop. March 10-11, Palembang. South Sumatra Forest Fire Management Project (SSFFMP), Palembang, South Sumatra.
abstract : English
Chokkalingam, U.; Tacconi, L.; Ruchiat, Y. 2002. Fire use, peatland transformation and local livelihoods: a case of positive reinforcement. In: Rieley, J.O., Page, S.E. (eds.). Peatlands for people: natural resources functions and sustainable management. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Tropical Peatlands, held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 22nd and 23rd August 2001. Jakarta, Indonesia, Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) and Indonesian Peat Association (IPA). 191-196.
abstract : English
S. Suyanto, Rizki Pandu Permana and Noviana Khususiyah. 2002. Fire, Livelihood and Swamp Management; Evidence from Southern Sumatra. ICRAF, CIFOR, European Union. Bogor. Indonesia. Report.
e-files PDF Complete file : English (size 1.7 MB)

Last updated: Monday, December 18, 2006