Progression of Peatland Degradation and Conversion Processes in Sumatra

Jukka Miettinen, Aljosja Hooijer, Jianjun Wang, Chenghua Shi and Soo Chin Liew

Proceedings of the 14th International Peat Congress


logging, plantation-development, tropical-peatland

Miettinen et al 2012: Progression of Peatland Degradation and Conversion Processes in Sumatra


Theme IX. Tropical peatlands


In this study we used over 50 high resolution satellite images to analyse sequences and interrelations in the progression of peatland degradation and conversion processes in three study areas in Sumatra, Indonesia since the 1970s. The results demonstrated the extreme vulnerability of Southeast Asian peatlands. Forests disturbed by intensive logging were noticed to be intermediate stages towards further degradation. Fires were practically non-existent in nearly-pristine peat swamp forests but were highly concentrated in heavily degraded forest areas leading to either an extremely degraded landscape or conversion to agriculture. By 2010, large scale industrial plantations covered half of all deforested area. Nearly 70% percent of all plantations in the study area had been established since 2000. The results highlight the importance of active and tightly controlled management of peatland areas, both in conservation and development activities.