Tropical forest and peatland conservation in Indonesia: Challenges and directions

Tropical forests and peatlands provide important ecological, climate and socio‐economic benefits from the local to the global scale. However, these ecosystems and their associated benefits are threatened by anthropogenic activities, including agricultural conversion, timber harvesting, peatland drainage and associated fire. Here, we identify key challenges, and provide potential solutions and future directions to meet forest and peatland conservation and restoration goals in Indonesia, with a particular focus on Kalimantan. Through a round‐table, dual‐language workshop discussion and literature evaluation, we recognized 59 political, economic, legal, social, logistical and research challenges, for which five key underlying factors were identified. These challenges relate to the 3Rs adopted by the Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency (Rewetting, Revegetation and Revitalization), plus a fourth R that we suggest is essential to incorporate into (peatland) conservation planning: Reducing Fires. Our analysis suggests that (a) all challenges have potential for impact on activities under all 4Rs, and many are inter‐dependent and mutually reinforcing, implying that narrowly focused solutions are likely to carry a higher risk of failure; (b) addressing challenges relating to Rewetting and Reducing Fire is critical for achieving goals in all 4Rs, as is considering the local socio‐political situation and acquiring local government and community support; and (c) the suite of challenges faced, and thus conservation interventions required to address these, will be unique to each project, depending on its goals and prevailing local environmental, social and political conditions. With this in mind, we propose an eight‐step adaptive management framework, which could support projects in both Indonesia and other tropical areas to identify and overcome their specific conservation and restoration challenges.
  • Authors: Harrison, M.E., Ottay, J.B., D’Arcy, L.J., Cheyne, S.M., Anggodo, Belcher, C., Cole, L., Dohong, A., Ermiasi, Y., Feldpausch, T., Gallego-Sala, A., Gunawan, A., Höing, A., Husson, S.J., Kulu, I.P., Soebagio, S.M., Mang, S., Mercado, L., Morrogh-Bernard, H.C., Page, S.E., Priyanto, R., Ripoll Capilla, B., Rowland, L., Santos, E.M., Schreer, V., Sudyana, I.N., Taman, S.B.B., Thornton, S.A., Upton, C., Wich, S.A., van Veen, F.J.F.
  • Subjects: forest fires, peatlands, ecological restoration, revegetation, rehydration, conservation, tropical forests
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • Source: People and Nature 2(1): 4-28
  • Year: 2020
  • DOI:
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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