Restoration of tropical peatland in Indonesia: why, where and how?

J.O. Rieley, T. Notohadiprawiro, B. Setiadi, S.H. Limin

After Wise Use – The Future of Peatlands, Proceedings of the 13th International Peat Congress: Tropical Peatlands

mega-rice-project, peatland-restoration, tropical-peatland

Rieley et al. 2008: Restoration of tropical peatland in Indonesia


Tropical peatland, especially in South-east Asia has been developed since the 1970s. In the beginning, projects were mostly on shallow peat near to the coast and linked to small farm agriculture. During the 1990s the size of land use change projects increased dramatically and focused on deeper peat areas further inland. Some of these were for small farmers linked to transmigration but, increasingly, they were for plantations of oil palm and pulp trees. The success rate of these has been variable and the problems created have been many, as exemplified by the Mega Rice Project in Central Kalimantan. This paper analyses reasons for failure of this large and ill- fated tropical peatland development project, considers the environmental and socio-economic problems created and proposes strategies for restoration of this degraded landscape in order to promote its future ‘wise use’.