May 03, 2013

Minister of Forestry Launches New Peat Forest Eco-Restoration Programme

Minister of Forestry Launches New Peat Forest Eco-restoration Programme on Kampar Peninsula, Indonesia

Indonesian Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan launched a multi-year restoration programme.

Indonesian Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan launched a multi-year restoration programme.

A multi-year ecosystem restoration programme involving the establishment of a peat forest reserve on the Kampar Peninsula of Riau Province, on the east coast of Sumatra, was launched today by the Indonesian Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan.

The programme will restore and protect 20,265 hectares of peat forest as a forest reserve. Significant areas of the Kampar Peninsula, including the concession area to be restored, have been degraded by past illegal logging, selective logging activities, burning and other encroachment into the peat forests of the Kampar Peninsula core.

The restoration programme will be led by Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER), a new not-for-profit organization initiated by APRIL earlier this year. APRIL will provide financial and technical assistance for the programme. The programme is being conducted under a 60-year restoration license issued by the Ministry of Forestry. RER will invest more than USD 7 million in the first three years to create an enduring, world-class forest reserve. RER will be supported by permanent resources and expert capabilities from a diverse range of partners.

RER’s partners include Fauna & Flora International, an international conservation organisation that acts to conserve threatened species and ecosystems worldwide; Bidara, a non-political organization focused on social capital and Daemeter, an independent consulting firm that promotes sustainable and equitable management of natural resources in Indonesia.

“This ecosystem license granted by the Ministry is significant as it is the first to be granted to an organisation with a collaborative structure involving the private sector and civil society groups. I see this collaborative model working for a common purpose as an innovative boost to the Government’s efforts to ensure a balance in responsible forest industry development with conservation of important forest areas,” said Zulkifli Hasan.

RER will also receive guidance from an eminent Advisory Board which will include Indonesian and international third-party experts.

Dr Anthony Greer, General Manager of RER, said that the organisation is committed to engaging with local communities nearby to the reserve as part of the restoration programme to establish a shared understanding of the conservation priorities for the area.

“RER will set up job creation and capacity-building schemes with direct participation by neighboring communities. We aim for, restoration and protection of the reserve to become a collaborative effort between RER and these communities,” Dr Greer said.


Ongoing commitment to conservation

RER will create the peat forest reserve through a four-phase plan approved by the Indonesian Government that will Protect, Assess, Restore and Manage the biodiverse land, flora, fauna and water values of the area.

“First, the area will be protected from further degradation through the establishment of formal guard and patrol resources and community resource management protection schemes,” Dr. Greer explained.

He said an inventory of the current presence and condition of flora, fauna and wildlife habitats will be undertaken to create a baseline for restoration work and this will include assessing carbon stocks and peat soils, the water cycle and current levels of biodiversity.

“Thirdly, a programme of restocking and replanting of native species will be undertaken with the objective of restoring the biodiversity of the area. Seeds will be collected from the wild and grown in a nursery in preparation for planting. Water level restoration will be conducted in tandem with replanting activities to optimise water levels,” Dr Greer said.

The reserve will then be managed and protected for the long term.

“We are fully aware that this is a complex undertaking that will take time to implement in an effective way. There will be difficult challenges to overcome along the way, as others who have attempted similar projects in Indonesia have found,” Dr Greer added. “With the help of our partners, we have the knowledge, expertise and resources to make this programme happen to a high standard. Everyone involved is in it for the long-term.”


A broader vision for ecosystem restoration

The peat forest concession area where RER is establishing the forest reserve had previously been designated by the Indonesian Government for selective logging under HPH (hak pengusahaan hutan) status.

The ecosystem restoration license is a recent mechanism put in place by the Indonesian Government to restore and protect Indonesia’s forests. RER’s broader vision involves the protection of larger sections of the Kampar Peninsula core through its model which involves diverse and experienced partners from across society working together for a common and crucial purpose.


About RER:
Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER) is a not-for-profit organisation committed to delivering comprehensive ecosystem restoration of ecologically important peat forest areas on Indonesia¹s Kampar Peninsula, to fulfill environmental, economic and social imperatives in a sustainable manner.

About Fauna & Flora International (FFI):
FFI protects threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science and take account of human needs. Operating in more than 40 countries worldwide – mainly in the developing world – FFI saves species from extinction and habitats from destruction, while improving the livelihoods of local people. Founded in 1903, FFI is the world’s longest established international conservation body and a registered charity.

About Bidara:
Bidara is a non-political and non-governmental organization which focuses on strengthening the social capital, initiative and self-reliance of rural communities in Indonesia.

About Daemeter:
Daemeter is an independent consulting firm promoting sustainable and equitable management of natural resources in Indonesia.

About APRIL:
Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) is a leading producer of fibre, pulp and paper with manufacturing operations in Kerinci, Riau Province, Indonesia. APRIL has been a pioneer in implementing sustainability practices in the pulp and paper industry in Indonesia, has extensive knowledge and expertise after more than a decade of initiatives and investments in conserving high conservation value tropical peat forest. APRIL has been a signatory to the UN Global Compact since 2006.


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