Draining and converting peatlands into agricultural lands can cause considerable and irreversible environmental, social, and economic damage. Environmentally, such action in company and community owned land has resulted in recurring large-scale fires in South Sumatra that release significant amounts of carbon emissions – a potent and common form of greenhouse gas that causes global warming. Socially, the fires have produced massive and widespread pollution that causes severe health risks. Economically, peatland damage has threatened agricultural production that supports the livelihoods of many.
Land-clearing, pollutive fires and damaged peatlands will continue to be a fixture unless we can drive effective and responsible peat-
land management that resolves key challenges. In South Sumatra, KELOLA Sendang (KS) focused on resolving three key challenges to
peatland management: 1) a lack of tools that allow stakeholders to systematically monitor peatlands for dry areas, and consequently
develop an early warning system for fires; 2) gaps in local and provincial regulation that hamper coordination for managing peatlands;
and 3) a lack of economically viable and environmentally sustainable livelihood options.
This brief looks at how KELOLA Sendang developed a peatland management model aimed at resolving the challenges. First, KS created a peatland monitoring system consisting of a tool for analysing/ evaluating water levels and teams of fire fighters. Second, KS worked with government agencies on enacting peatland management regulations. Third, KS expanded livelihood opportunities for communities involved in peatland conservation and restoration. These three solutions, when implemented alongside each other and consisting of the
right mix of incentives and sanctions, should reduce greenhouse gas emissions in South Sumatra in the long-term.