Soil and Land Management

Improving community fire management and peatland restoration in Indonesia

Project code
AUD 6,874,953
Research program manager
Dr Nora Devoe
Project leader
Daniel Mendham - CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
Commissioned organisation
DEC 2017
JUN 2023
Project status
Legally committed/Active
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This project is reducing unwanted peatland fires in Indonesia through science to underpin peatland restoration and to develop gender-inclusive sustainable livelihoods in and around peatlands. 

Smoke haze from indiscriminate burning of peatlands has become a major issue in southeast Asia in recent decades, negatively affecting public health and the economy of several countries in the region. 

The problem mainly stems from the burning of rural lands associated with the expansion of oil palm and timber plantations as well as smallholder agriculture.  Peatland systems in their natural state do not burn because they are continuously wet with elevated water tables, but degraded peatlands, due to logging, clearing and draining, are susceptible to fires during the dry season. 

Peatland restoration has not been attempted in tropical regions on a large scale. This project, also known as "Gambut Kita (Our Peat)", will assist Indonesia to reduce peatland fires and restore the peatlands in an effective and equitable way, and by so doing, help to mitigate the smoke haze problem and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Expected outcomes

  • Increased capacity of the Indonesian Government to restore peatland in a manner that is socially inclusive and biophysically sustainable.
  • Increased capacity of FOERDIA and other Indonesian partners to research biophysical, economic, policy and social aspects of fire management peatland management and restoration in an inclusive way. 
  • Increased capacity to improve the livelihoods of male and female smallholder farmers on restored peat in the focus areas of the project in South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan.
  • Reduced peatland burning and fires, leading to reduced smoke haze and greenhouse gas emissions, and a commensurate reduction in negative impacts on public health and local, national, and international economies. 
  • Improved resilience, communities and industries operating on restored peatland. 
Key partners
Australian National University
Forestry Research Development and Innovation Agency
RMIT University
fact sheet placeholder image
Fact sheet FST/2016/144