Vegetation restoration on degraded tropical peatlands: opportunities and barriers

Susan Page, Laura Graham, Agata Hoscilo and Suwido Limin

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

degradation, regeneration-barriers, seedling-transplant-trials, tropical-peat-swamp-forest, vegetation-restoration

Page et al. 2008: Vegetation restoration on degraded tropical peatlands


Extensive peatlands in SE Asia have been degraded leading to on- and off-site environmental and socio- economic impacts. In order to address these problems, landscape scale restoration measures are urgently required. This paper reviews field data and on-going vegetation trials on degraded peatlands in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Data reveal the nature of vegetation changes that follow drainage and fire. At high levels of degradation, succession to forest is prevented and replaced by retrogressive succession to fern and sedge communities. At this stage, natural regeneration is insufficient to bring back forest vegetation and some form of human-assisted regeneration is needed in order to remove or reduce barriers to forest regeneration. We address the nature of these barriers, describe initial results from tree seedling establishment trials, and discuss potential future directions that tropical peatland restoration might take.