Fire use, peatland transformation and local livelihoods: a case of positive reinforcement

Fire use, peatland transformation and local livelihoods: a case of positive reinforcement

A case study from the central extensive peatland sections of the Middle Mahakam Area, East Kalimantan, is used to depic how local use of fire for agriculture extraction activities could be a major factor driving peatland transformation. Large-scale fires that occured in the area in 1982/83 and 1997/98, have resulted in transformation of some of the forested peatlands to open grass and water patches. Many of these degraded areas continue to be subject to annual, largerly uncontrolled, burning in the dry season for fish extraction. Conversion of the forested lanscape to open grass and water areas, and ultimately to lakes with repeated burning may actually enhance fishing conditions and benefit local communities, at least in the short run. The potential long-term impacts of repeated fires and landscape transformation on the vegetation, hydrological conditions, fisheries, and local livelihoods need further investigation. The scope for harmonisation of potentially divergent local interest and activities, and non-local biodiversity conservation and climate stabilisation interest in this tropical peatland ecosystem are discussed.

Authors: Chokkalingam, U.; Tacconi, L.; Ruchiat, Y.

Topic: fire,forest fires,peatlands,forests,fishery resources,rural welfare,conferences,wetlands

Geographic: East Kalimantan,Indonesia

Publisher: Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) and Indonesian Peat Association (IPA), Jakarta, Indonesia

Publication Year: 2002

Source: 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. 191-196

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