Rate of peat land conversion has decreased in Indonesia
In recent decades, over 10 million hectares of coastal and lowland peat swamp forest in Southeast Asia have been converted to drainage-based agriculture and plantations (increasingly for palm oil and pulp wood for paper), resulting in major loss of biodiversity and rapid oxidation of the peat soil, turning the peat carbon store into the greenhouse gas CO2. In addition, land loss from subsidence of peat lands in Southeast Asia is a top emerging conservation issue
Wetlands International advocate a full stop of further development of drainage dependent plantations on peat, implementation of best Management Practices as an intermediate measure and as a final solution the gradual removal of existing plantations. They aim to achieve this by providing scientific, technical and policy input to participants in international forums, governments in Indonesia and Malaysia and the private sector. These interventions have resulted in the following products:
- The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) published a review of the environmental and social impacts of oil palm plantations on peat, as a result of the RSPO Peatland Working Group established on basis of a resolution of Wetlands International.
- Broad understanding and acceptance in the RSPO of the issues at hand as expressed in public statements and in RSPO policies, especially with regard to the GHG issue.
- April 2013: Revised Principles and Criteria of the RSPO, with key clauses and guidance regarding peat lands, GHG emissions and HCV area management.
- Public commitments from major players in the industry (both palm oil and pulp wood sectors, upstream and downstream) to avoid further developments on peat (palm oil: Sime Darby, Wilmar, Unilever, Nestle, GAR, Kellogs, L’Oreal; paper: APP, APRIL, and over one hundred downstream companies such as Xerox, Disney and National Geographic).
- Indonesian Moratorium on development of peat lands extended.
- Well-informed RSPO National Interpretation process in Indonesia, using local NGO inputs on environmental and social issues.