Why we care about peat rehabilitation
Peatlands are a type of wetland, formed through the accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter in waterlogged conditions. Peatlands are important because they contain twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests, and are incredibly biodiverse.
Indonesia, where most of our operations are based, is home to large swathes of tropical peatlands and some of the deepest peat areas globally. Through the conservation and restoration of peatlands in our concessions, we aim to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which is vital to fighting climate change. We are working toward reviving this essential ecosystem that millions of people, plants, and animals call home.
Peatland is often drained for agricultural purposes. When they are overexploited and dry out, they emit massive amounts of GHG due to the high carbon content in the soil. Additionally, dry and damaged peatland becomes extremely flammable. When peat fires occur, they cause further GHG emissions. The IUCN estimates that GHG emissions from damaged peatlands makes up 5.6 percent of all man-made emissions globally.
In 2010, in line with our commitment to responsible palm oil production, we made the landmark decision to stop development on peatland. We have embarked on a mission to rehabilitate these peatlands through rewetting drained lands and other measures in order to reduce fire risks as well as to restore their complex ecosystems.
Peat Ecosystem Rehabilitation Project
In November 2015, PT SMART Tbk together with our parent company, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) launched the Peat Ecosystem Rehabilitation Project at PT Agro Lestari Mandiri (PT AMNL) in West Kalimantan. This involves the rehabilitation of around 2,600 hectares of peatland set aside for conservation damaged by fire during the 2015 fire season.
With the help of technical experts, we have been rehabilitating the peatland, including restoring the peatland’s hydrology and water-table to reduce the risk of fire. To date we have re-vegetated 1000 hectares of peatland. We have also worked with the University of Tanjungpura to develop a long-term water management plan.
Our people engage actively with local communities on the ground to ensure that residents are involved in and support peatland rehabilitation. We also work with the communities on long-term fire prevention measures through the Desa Makmur Peduli Api programme.