Restoration Ecology of Lowland Tropical Peatlands in Southeast Asia: Current Knowledge and Future Research Directions
While there has been extensive research on northern peatlands, there has been limited studies that have studied tropical peatlands. Southeast Asia in particular has experienced significant deforestation and degradation of peatlands, thus resulting in a rise of landscape-scale restoration projects.
Goals & Methods
This paper addresses the restoration of tropical low-lying peatlands using information from on-going research in a 4500 square kilometer study site in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, paying close attention to five specifical knowledge gaps: (i) land-cover dynamics of degraded peatlands, (ii) vegetation rehabilitation, (iii) restoration of hydrology, (iv) rehabilitation of carbon sequestration and storage, and (v) promotion of sustainable livelihoods for local communities.
Conclusions & Takeaways
Species diversity of trees falls with repeated burnings in the dry season, which are increasingly being decoupled from the ENSO phenomenon. Repeatedly burned peatlands fall into a state of arrested or retrogressive succession dominated by ferns and sedges, making natural regeneration difficult due to competition with these non-woody plants. Thus, shading out these ferns and sedges through establishment of woody shrubs is important. Hydrological restoration through building closely-spaced dams using locally-available wood and low-density peat in drainage channels that were cut into the degraded peatlands can restore hydological function by (1) reducing water level fluctuation during the dry season, thus reducing fire risk and (2) assisting regeneration of vegetation by reducing flooding during the wet season. Community involvement in damming of drainage channels is important to ensure that the dams are not taken down and can be coupled with community education about long-term ecological and health benefits, reduced use of fire in agriculture and addition of fish farming in the dammed areas for socio-economic development.
Restoration Ecology of Lowland Tropical Peatlands in Southeast Asia: Current Knowledge and Future Research Directions. Ecosystems. 2008;12:888–905. doi:10.1007/s10021-008-9216-2.
- Department of Geography, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
- Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands
- Department of Forest Ecology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
- Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands
- School of Geography, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
- CIMTROP, University of Palangkaraya, Palangkaraya, Indonesia