“Jakarta Declaration” on Responsible Management of Tropical Peatlands Issued by IPS, BRG and JSP



On 2 November 2017, the International Peatland Society (IPS), the Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), and the Japan Peatland Society (JPS) issued the “Jakarta Declaration on Responsible Management of Tropical Peatland”. This was the result of a two-day seminar and workshop in Jakarta on 1-2 November 2017, which was attended by 57 peatland experts from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico and other countries.

The participants heard presentations on the history and extend of drainage, the climate impact of the decomposing peat and the fires, law enforcement and regulations, plus views on measuring, terminology and rehabilitation experiences from abroad, before agreeing on five specific actions to help restoring degraded peatlands mainly in Kalimantan. Special focus was also given to the need for education and capacity building.

The region is suffering from massive fires each year as a result of large-scale peatland drainage since 1997, including the failed Mega Rice Project. These are a burden for climate, biodiversity, local people and tourism, just to mention a few of the complex problems that were covered during the conference. The Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency, lead by Nazir Foead, plans to restore 2 million hectares of degraded peatlands by 2020, a truly challenging goal.

The event was initiated by the Executive Board of the IPS after the International Peat Congress 2016 in Kuching, Malaysia as a follow-up to a media debate on peatland management in the area, and a letter by 139 peatland experts who were concerned about the contents of some of the keynote speeches of the Congress. After a visit of Professor Jack Rieley in Indonesia for first arrangements, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Aberdeen, United Kingdom in May 2017 to set further details on venue and date.  

"Jakarta Declaration" on Responsible Management of Tropical Peatland

Truly effective Tropical Peatland Restoration in Indonesia will require substantial development of an integrated peatland management system based on scientific and technical knowledge and information. Achieving this requires the establishment of an International Committee for Technical Consultation to facilitate Tropical Peatland Restoration Action.

For this purpose, the IPS (International Peatland Society), BRG (Peatland Restoration Agency, Indonesia) and JPS (Japan Peatland Society) organized the 1st "Tropical Peatland Roundtable" on the 1st and 2nd November 2017 in Jakarta, supported by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), Norwegian Embassy, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and BRG.

After two days of thorough discussion, a principal strategy of Responsible Management of Tropical Peatland was agreed. This includes five pillars of action:

•    establish a "Tropical Peatland Center "
•    organize an " International Committee for Technical Consultation"
•    develop an "Integrated Monitoring System"
•    conduct a "Model Project" for responsible management
•    achieve capacity building

We release this "Jakarta Declaration" as a milestone for promoting action on "Responsible Management of Tropical Peatland", also as a basis for bridging Indonesian stakeholders and the international community.

Gerald Schmilewski      
The President of the International Peatland Society (IPS)

Nazir Foead   
The Head of Peatland
Restoration Agency (BRG)   

Mitsuru Osaki
The President of Japan Peatland Society (JPS)

The workshop was followed by a three-day excursion to restoration projects and local livelihoods near Palangka Raya, Kalimantan on 3-5 November, which was attended by 28 participants. After visiting six research and restoration sites, including two canal blocks, an observation tower, firefighting trails, a small area of young peat swamp forest, and local smallholder farms, each member of the group also planted a tree as a symbol of their commitment, together with local students, met the mayors of the city for dinner discussions, and saw burnt vegetation and a former research station at Sebangau river. A full report will be published in Peatlands International 4.2017.