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  Distribution and Status of Peatlands in Indonesia

Although peatlands are ecologically and economically important, much of the information related to them are limited to their distribution and extent. Information on the socio-economy of peatlands, opportunities for development and other potentials of peatlands is relatively scarce.  Global conventions on biodiversity, the Kyoto protocol and other emerging global initiatives on rewards for environmental services offer opportunities that could potentially be sustainable for the management of peatlands.

There is sufficient Information on the extent of peatlands in Indonesia. Brady and Kosasih (1991) and Brady et al. (1995), recorded that peatlands with a peat depth of up to 17m could be found in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Irian Jaya (Papua). Most of the areas are covered with mixed forests, secondary forests of logged-over areas, shrubs and swampy grasslands. However, the absence of common definitions, measurement techniques and other peatland-related information (forest status or intensive converted peatlands) has seen substantial divergence on the same information. The recent data from Wetlands International (Wahyunto and Heryanto 2005) revealed that peatland area in Indonesia is estimated to be 20.6million ha or about 11% of the land area of Indonesia.  Of this, about 5.8million ha or 28% is said to be in Kalimantan, and about 7.2million ha or 35% in Sumatra. This is different from information issued by Puslittanak or Euro Consult.

The absence of a common understanding on definitions and techniques has also made monitoring and evaluation of peatlands very difficult. Indonesia does not have the actual rate of degradation of peatlands, but it is estimated that about 50% of peatland areas in Indonesia has been degraded.  This approximately tallies up with 15% of the total deforestation rate in Indonesia.