Fire and tree species diversity in tropical peat swamp forests
Indonesia houses a large quantity of peat swamps, an ecosystem type that contains diverse plant species, and provides a habitat for endangered animals. Peat swamps are degraded due to logging and agriculture expansion, specifically with the use of fire. Peat swamps are highly susceptible to fires due to peat flammability. Peat swamps also house a large quantity of carbon, so restoration is a high priority.
Goals and Methods
The authors aim to determine peat swamp rate of recovery post-fire disturbance and assess the impact that fires make on several peat swamp tree species. They conduct a field study on Mawas and Sebangau peat domes in Central Kalimantan, Borneo. Tree species are identified and measured in sites that were either unburned or burned and at various times.
Conclusions and Takeaways
Fires significantly predict the species composition of each peat forest, with recently burned forests dominated by few species. Species that facilitate forest recovery are not found at recently burned sites. Overall, peat swamp forests can recover from fires via natural regeneration, though enrichment planting may help recovery progress faster. The authors note that the exclusion of fire will ultimately be effective in maintaining ecosystem diversity and promoting recovery.
Fire and tree species diversity in tropical peat swamp forests. Forest Ecology and Management. 2023;529:120704. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2022.120704.