Workshop: Bioenergy to restore Indonesia’s peatlands?

Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) is seeking to broaden efforts to restore degraded peatlands through new Public-Private Partnerships.

In collaboration with the government of Central Kalimantan, a series of workshops kicked off in the provincial capital, Palangkaraya, with experts from environmental NGOs, donor organizations, research institutes, and government agencies.

The BRG says it is looking for innovative ways to help solve the problem as more than half of the land targeted for restoration is in private hands. The Agency is also looking to science to help find the answers to sustainable restoration.

Himlal Baral, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research, CIFOR, was at the workshop to present new research into the potential of restoring degraded peatland for bioenergy and food production.

“Our current research on bioenergy production potential on degraded and marginal lands aims to answer key questions, such as how sustainable bioenergy can be developed to avoid the food-energy-environment trilemma, what species are best for efficient bioenergy production on  degraded peatlands, and what the socioeconomic and environmental outcomes are for bioenergy,” says Baral.

These findings can support the Indonesian government as well as the BRG in their strategy to restore degraded peatlands,” says Baral.

Yusuf Bahtimi, a CIFOR consultant who works in the province, says restoring peatlands using bioenergy species would not only restore ecosystem services but also address energy deficiencies and promote clean and renewable energy.

“Revenue from bioenergy could help offset the high cost of restoring huge areas of degraded peatlands,” he says.

No one size fits all

The researchers also point out that science and research can help the BRG to determine what species planted on degraded lands would have the best result. 

“Not every species or combination of species suits a particular area of degraded land. We are working hard to find the right species that can help address different issues like energy security, food security, climate change, and poverty,” says Bahtimi.

To help achieve those goals, CIFOR is working in close collaboration with government institutions, universities and local partners, including the Biotechnology Research Centre (FOERDIA), University of Muhammadiyah in Palangkaraya, and local communities in Pulang Pisau, Central Kalimantan.

“The BRG has shown real enthusiasm for our work. They need to know which species can adapt to the different peatland environments and we hope we can work with the agency next year to test our research in the field,” says Siti Maimunah,  Dean of the Faculty of Forestry at Muhammadiyah University.

Next month, the BRG will hold a similar workshop in Jambi, Sumatra, and a national meeting in Jakarta.

This research was supported by the Korean National Institute of Forest Sciences.

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