Status of Peatland Degradation and Development in Sumatra and Kalimantan
Peatlands cover around 13 Mha in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia. Human activities have rapidly increased in the peatland ecosystems during the last two decades, invariably degrading them and making them vulnerable to fires. This causes high carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change. For this article, we used 94 high resolution (10–20 m) satellite images to map the status of peatland degradation and development in Sumatra and Kalimantan using visual image interpretation. The results reveal that less than 4% of the peatland areas remain covered by pristine peatswamp forests (PSFs), while 37% are covered by PSFs with varying degree of degradation. Furthermore, over 20% is considered to be unmanaged degraded landscape, occupied by ferns, shrubs and secondary growth. This alarming extent of degradation makes peatlands vulnerable to accelerated peat decomposition and catastrophic fire episodes that will have global consequences. With on-going degradation and development the existence of the entire tropical peatland ecosystem in this region is in great danger.
KeywordsTropical peatland Peatland degradation Southeast Asia Indonesia
The authors acknowledge financial support from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) of Singapore for the Centre of Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) where this study was conducted.
- Chan, Y.K., X.W. Lim, and J. Miettinen. 2010. Analysis of vegetation fire distribution in insular Southeast Asia in 2009. In Proceedings of the Young Defence Scientist Program (YDSP) Congress 2010, 8 April 2010, Singapore.Google Scholar
- Corlett, R.T. 2009. The ecology of tropical East Asia. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Goldammer, J.G. 1999. Forests on fire. Science New Series 284: 1782–1783.Google Scholar
- Laumonier, Y. 1997. The vegetation and physiography of Sumatra. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
- Page, S.E., and C. Banks. 2007. Tropical peatlands: Distribution, extent and carbon storage—uncertainties and knowledge gaps. Peatlands International 2: 26–27.Google Scholar
- Page, S.E., A. Hoscilo, H. Wösten, J. Jauhiainen, M. Silvius, J. Rieley, H. Ritzema, K. Tansey, L. Graham, H. Vasander, and L. Suwido. 2009. Restoration ecology of lowland tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia: Current knowledge and future research directions. Ecosystems 12: 888–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rieley, J.O., and S.E. Page, eds. 2005. Wise use of tropical peatlands: Focus of Southeast Asia. Wageningen, The Netherlands: ALTERRA—Wageningen University and Research Centre and the EU INCO-STRAPEAT and RESTORPEAT Partnership.Google Scholar
- Silvius, M., and H. Diemont. 2007. Deforestation and degradation of peatlands. Peatlands International 2: 32–34.Google Scholar
- Wahyunto, S. Ritung, and H. Subagjo. 2003. Maps of area of peatland distribution and carbon content in Sumatera, 1990–2002. Bogor, Indonesia: Wetlands International—Indonesia Programme & Wildlife Habitat Canada (WHC).Google Scholar
- Wahyunto, S. Ritung, Suparto, and H. Subagjo. 2004. Map of peatland distribution area and carbon content in Kalimantan, 2000–2002. Bogor, Indonesia: Wetlands International—Indonesia Programme & Wildlife Habitat Canada (WHC).Google Scholar
- Wösten, J.H.M., J. Van Den Berg, P. Van Eijk, G.J.M. Gevers, W.B.J.T. Giesen, A. Hooijer, A. Idris, P.H. Leenman, D.S. Rais, C. Siderius, M.J. Silvius, N. Suryadiputra, and I.T. Wibisono. 2006. Interrelationships between hydrology and ecology in fire degraded tropical peat swamp forests. Water Resources Development 22: 157–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar