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Can peatland turn into oil palm fields and not cause haze?

Can peatland turn into oil palm fields and not cause haze?

They are holding on to the scientifically unfounded belief that drained peatland agriculture can be made ‘sustainable’, and peat loss halted, via unproven methods such as peat compaction, Mr Lahiru, 33, told The Straits Times. “Their insistence undermines the efforts taken by Indonesia, and other Indonesian and Malaysian agri-businesses, in working with independent scientists towards a sustainable solution.” He and the other 138 scientists signed a letter refuting the Malaysians’ claims. It was published in science journal Global Change Biology online last Tuesday. “Of great concern is that none of the agricultural management methods applied to date have been shown to prevent the loss of peat and the associated subsidence of the peatland surface following drainage,” said the authors from institutions such as Oxford University and the Indonesia-based Centre for International Forestry Research. Also included are scientists from six Singapore institutions.


Blazes in Southeast Asia May Have Led to Deaths of Over 100,000, Study Says

Blazes in Southeast Asia May Have Led to Deaths of Over 100,000, Study Says

The forest fire and haze disaster in Southeast Asia last year may have led to the deaths of more than 100,000 people, according to a study released Monday by researchers from two United States universities. Herry Purnomo, a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research said this study is a good wake-up call, we need to evaluate and verify this on the Indonesian side. This is against the official Indonesian government figure of 43 million Indonesians being exposed to particles from the fire, but only 500,000 suffering minor health problems.

This article is also published on

 


The political economy of peatland restoration

The political economy of peatland restoration

This is now today’s challenge in the political economy of peatland restoration. The technical issue is clear and steps as well as options are being formulated. The political and economic reality has to be made clear to all players, including corporations that are perpetrators of the annual forest fires. The fires are the regular result of policies carried out to ensure continuing growth and profits for huge plantations that still wish to expand their territory. The costs are very high for the public at large. Analysis by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) examined data across four districts in Riau province. CIFOR found that 85 percent of the cash was distributed to local officials and business elites and to plantation developers.

This article is also published in Perspektif Online under title “The political economy of peatland restoration


Indonesia forest fires: has this Sumatran village got the solution?

Indonesia forest fires: has this Sumatran village got the solution?

Fires have returned once again to the forests and peatlands of Riau province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Riau is often one of the hardest hit by the fires, due in part to its high concentration of peatland. Rachel Carmenta, a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for International Forestry Research, says the current flurry of forest fire prevention schemes in Riau – both through the government’s Peatland Restoration Agency as well as through communities such as Dosan – need to take stock of past lessons. She added that they are operating largely in the absence of a systematic evidence base. In addition, evidence suggests the most effective fire management interventions – such as peatland rewetting – are also the most controversial, and deploying these will therefore require significant negotiation and stakeholder dialogue to bring about consensus, in turn requiring expertise, money and time – as well as monitoring.


‘A major concern’: plantation-driven deforestation ramps up in Borneo

‘A major concern’: plantation-driven deforestation ramps up in Borneo

Borneo, home to animals like orangutans, rhinos, elephants, and proboscis monkeys is also host to some of the fastest plantation expansion in the world. Now, a new study finds less plantation-driven deforestation on the Indonesian side than they were expecting, but a big jump from 2005 to 2015. Sheil underlined the need to keep an eye on Borneo and its land-cover trends. David Gaveau, lead author of the study and landscape ecologist at the Center for International Forestry Research, added that all lowland forests below 300 meters above sea level are at risk of conversion. A lot of forest remains in areas slated for conversion to agriculture by national and provincial landuse plans. He added that we should keep a close eye on orangutan forest habitats and on peat swamps like for example the forests around Danau Sentarum National Park in Kapuas Hulu Kalimantan.


Frontier Myanmar: Is yearly flooding the new normal?

Frontier Myanmar: Is yearly flooding the new normal?

In recent decades Myanmar has lost huge swathes of its forest – including in environmentally significant catchment areas – due to logging, both legal and illegal. As the consequences, Myanmar are facing flooding. The concept is relatively simple. Because trees absorb water through their roots, leaves and leaf litter, their presence reduces the amount that flows into waterways after rainfall. Without trees, more of the rain enters rivers and creeks, raising their level. But it’s also highly controversial. In 2005, a United Nations report said that forests had only a limited effect on flooding, because there was a limit to how much water they could absorb. When rain is heavy and sustained – such as during Myanmar’s monsoon – the soil is unable to take any more water, said the report, published by the Centre for International Forestry Research and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation,

 


The good, the bad, and the ugly in palm oil

The good, the bad, and the ugly in palm oil

Among the World’s most controversial industries, palm oil production is once again in the headlines. The polarized rhetoric and contradictory claims – concerning who really did what and where – shows the need for objective information concerning what really is going on. A new publication, led by David Gaveau of CIFOR, provides just that and moves us towards objectively judging the impacts of palm oil. It quantifies the impact of palm oil on forest cover in Borneo. The results indicate that the plantation industry was the principle driver of the loss of old-growth forest in Malaysian Borneo. The good news, at least for Indonesia, is that considerably more oil palm has been developed on land that had been cleared many years previously.


No Fire, No Food : Tribe Clings to Slash-and-Burn Amid Haze Crackdown

No Fire, No Food : Tribe Clings to Slash-and-Burn Amid Haze Crackdown

Haze is back in August, with farmers taking advantage of peak dry weather conditions in Sumatra and Kalimantan to burn land for a variety of crops. Sixty percent of the fires burning last week were started outside company concessions, according to Global Forest Watch. In Kapuas Hulu, as in other regions, slash-and-burn is a varied practice, and experts suggest that by failing to tailor policy to the different types, indigenous farmers have been unfairly targeted. Herry Purnomo, a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) said that we need to have powerful institutions at the local level to control the burning, because it is impossible for zero burning in agriculture but we need also to have a space for tradition, and for indigenous people to do burning. And every district has different demographic and agricultural characteristics. The solution, perhaps, is each district needs to develop a district regulation, to regulate open burning, including for palm plantations or investment coming from government.



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