Environmental change and peatland forest dynamics in the Lake Sentarum area, West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Four short pollen and charcoal records from sites within and around Lake Pemerak on the margins of the Danau (Lake) Sentarum National Park in inland West Kalimantan, supported by modern surface samples from the Reserve, provide a partial picture of lowland equatorial vegetation and environments over at least the last 40 000 years. They demonstrate general stability in the distribution of wetland and ombrotrophic (or raised) peatlands through the recorded period with dominance throughout of peatland and swamp forest. However, there was marked variation in sediment accumulation rates and in the floristic composition of the vegetation. The period prior to the last glacial maximum appears to have been the time of most active peatland growth and contrasts with the perception, from previous studies on largely coastal and subcoastal peatlands in Indonesia, that the Holocene was the time of major tropical peat accumulation. A general increase in charcoal, just prior to about 30 000 years ago, suggests that burning became more frequent, and is attributed to initial human impact rather than climate change. The subsequent latest Pleistocene period, embracing the Last Glacial Maximum, is marked by a peak in montane–submontane rainforest taxa, strongly indicating a substantial lowering of temperature. It appears that much of the Holocene is not recorded but recommencement of peat accumulation is evident within the last few thousand years. At the time of fieldwork access to the central part of the Lake Sentarum system was inhibited by strong El Niño drought conditions, but this area has the potential to provide a longer and more continuous history of environmental change for the region.
  • Authors: Anshari, G.Z., Peter Kershaw, A., Van Der Kaars, S., Jacobsen, G.
  • Author Affiliation: Tanjungpura University, Monash University, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
  • Subjects: environmental change, peatlands, forests, lowlands, tropics, rainforests
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • Source: Journal of Quaternary Science 19(7): 637-655
  • Year: 2004
  • DOI:
Latest posts


Founding member states
Republic of Indonesia Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo Republic of Peru
Coordinating partners
Ministry of Environment and Forestry Republic of Indonesia CIFOR UN Environment FAO