Provided sound scientific knowledge on peatlands to the new Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency

In late 2015, the Indonesian President called for a moratorium on peatlands and announced the establishments of a Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG). Wetlands International and its partners contributed to this by providing thorough research on peatland issues in Indonesia.


Wetlands International

The purpose of the project was to plan for sustainable tropical peat swamp landscapes; address emissions, land subsidence and flooding issues.

Why did Norway decide to support this project?

Indonesia's peatlands occupy more than 15 million hectares of land – an area more than twice the size of Ireland. Malaysia’s peatlands stretch over 2,7 million hectares of land. These areas are valuable for several reasons, but very important is their capacity of storing enormous amounts of carbon. One of the main reasons for peatland degradation and destruction is that peat is drained to be used for cultivation of agricultural crops such as palm oil. More than 60 percent of Indonesia’s emissions come from deforestation and the degradation of peatlands, including peat fires.

Having solid scientific knowledge of impacts of peatland subsidence and models for subsidence and flood projections is a necessary asset for governments’ management plans for peatlands. Wetlands International and its partners have long experience within this field, and therefore, Norway decided to support their work.

Wetlands International’s project was centered around five main outcomes according to different target groups

Outcome 1 (Government): Wetlands International aimed for a better understanding and recognition of the problems related to peat swamp conversion and options of climate smart land use within the government

Outcome 2 (Industry): Wetlands International aimed for recognition of peat emissions, subsidence and resulting problems and options of climate smart land use within the palm oil and pulp and paper sector

Outcome 3 (Science community): Strong scientific evidence of tropical peat degradation, emissions and subsidence

Outcome 4 (International platforms): Recognition of peat emissions and subsidence and options of climate smart land use in international platforms and conventions

Outcome 5 (Civil society): Enhanced capacity within NGOs to liaise with governments, industry and local communities to promote sustainable peatland use

  • Please find Wetland International’s final results report to Norad on these outcomes in the PDF file <here/in the box to the right>. The information presented is written by Wetlands International. Their presentations and conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of Norad.


Norad finds it positive that Wetlands International and its partners have contributed to the achievement of the outcomes above. During the project period, the REDD+ community has witnessed significant changes particularly within the government, industry and international platforms policies.

First, the Indonesian government has made bold moves to curb the subsidence and fires on peatlands. In response to the catastrophic fire and haze incidence in Indonesia in 2015, the Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for a moratorium on peatlands, announced the installation of a Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for issued an instruction regarding peat management for the prevention and control of fire.

Wetlands International advised the government on installing such agency upon the disastrous peatland fires in 2015 and is currently working with the Peatland Restoration Agency on the design and roll-out of a National Peatland Conservation and Restoration Strategy that was called for by Wetlands International. In addition, Wetlands International is providing advice to the new Agency on a new law on peatland management.

In Malaysia, the action taken on peatland issues is more limited. However, the new Chief Minister Adenan Satem has shown interest in conserving the natural resources like forests and peatlands for future generation and has pledged no more logging and palm oil expansion.

Second, major palm oil and pulp wood plantation companies have committed to no-deforestation and no-peat in new developments. Palm oil producers accounting for 80% of the global market have announced a commitment to deforestation-free supply chains. This is one of the results of many years of campaigning by NGOs that have, amongst others, used the knowledge and information materials developed in collaboration with Wetlands International.

Third, The Paris Agreement (UNFCCC COP21) has given the clear signal to protect current carbon sinks and reservoirs. The Agreement also states the need for starting to build an inclusive carbon neutral economy. Incentives at the UNFCCC level enables reducing emissions from peatlands to be included in national targets and hence helps to put the emissions from peatlands on the national agendas of peat-rich countries.

Although the reduced emissions from all these policies and pledges cannot be measured at this stage, Norad believes that it is probable that it will reduce CO2-emissions over time provided that the actors implement their policies and pledges.

Lessons learned

The key lesson learned during this project period is that Indonesia and Malaysia require different approaches when communicating about issues of drainage based plantations on peatland.

While in Indonesia many processes are ongoing that stimulate REDD+ development like the moratorium, PP 71 and the one map policy, in Malaysia there is less interest in REDD+ funding and therefore the regulatory environment is still promoting development on peatlands.

In Indonesia, Wetlands International was successful to include their arguments in most processes, while in Malaysia there was less traction towards sustainable development on peatlands.


The result descriptions are based on the information provided by the organisations. Their presentations and conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of Norad. Norad has not verified all results reported.

Published 22.10.2013
Last updated 20.06.2018