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Improving strategies for sustainability of short-term agricultural utilization on degraded peatlands in Central Kalimantan

Surahman, Arif, Soni, Peeyush, Shivakoti, Ganesh P.
Environment, development and sustainability 2019 v.21 no.3 pp. 1369-1389
carbon dioxide, ecosystems, farmers, forests, greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure, logging, peatlands, plantations, reforestation, small-scale farming, soil fertility, tropics, Borneo, Indonesia
Indonesia is the major contributor of peatland areas in the tropics; however, exploitation of peatlands for various needs with improper management such as illegal logging activities, conversion to plantations, and expansion of smallholder agriculture has caused peatland degradation. In Central Kalimantan Province, only 1.5 million ha (57%) of the total 2.6 million ha peatland is categorized as pristine peatlands forest and the remaining 1.1 million ha is categorized as degraded. Degraded peatland is a significant source of CO₂ emissions as well as one such alternative for agricultural expansion. There is scientifically unfounded belief that drained peatland agriculture can be made “long-term sustainable”; therefore, the main idea is only short-term utilization of degraded peatlands for agriculture in a relatively sustainable manner, while effort for conservation and reforestation for long-term sustainable keeps going on. Prospective structural analysis was used to identify the most influential and sensitive variables to be influenced for determining the locally most crucial areas of improvement for enabling short-term agricultural utilization of degraded peatlands in a relatively sustainable manner. This method is a part of strategic foresight toolbox for scenario building process, which observes interrelation and influence among different variables in order to understand the most relevant factors for the development of a specific area. Based on the analysis, the strategies considered for enabling short-term agricultural utilization of degraded peatlands in a relatively sustainable manner include improvement in soil fertility and suitability for agriculture, infrastructure related to peatlands agriculture, institutional capacity, innovation technology and dissemination, farmer knowledge in sustainable peatlands agriculture, and plant productivity. Agricultural expansion implemented in connection with these improvements would enhance the welfare of farmers as well as maintain ecological systems.