Dutch government starts project to stop fires in Kalimantan
The government of the Netherlands will be investing 5 million Euros in the coming two years on basis of the “Peat Forest Amendment” which was passed in the Dutch parliament on November 14, 2004.
The Central Kalimantan Peatlands Project (CKPP) will be implemented by four locally operating NGOs (Wetlands International, WWF, CARE and BOS), the provincial planning agency in Kalimantan (BAPPEDA) and the University of Palangkaraya. The project will be managed by Wetlands International head quarters based in Wageningen, the Netherlands.
The network of environmental NGOs will focus on four key activities: 1) fire prevention, 2) restoration of the peatland hydrology (closing drainage cannels to prevent drying of the peat soil), 3) reduction of poverty through small scale developments and 4) biodiversity conservation. Concrete examples of the project work are the closing of drainage canals to re-wet and re-green degraded fire-prone areas.
Large parts of Kalimantan consists of peatlands; originally mostly forested. These tropical peat swamp forests are the living area for many threatened species. In this regard the project will focus on the Sebangau National Park and the Mawas area which hold the largest remaining population of Orang Utan. In recent years, a large proportion of the peat swamp forests have been turned into wastelands as a result of deforestation, over-drainage and badly planned agricultural development. These developments made the area very vulnerable for fires. Almost annually, huge fires take place the area, destroying both internationally important nature areas and important agricultural and forestry assets. The fires cause major air pollution problems in surrounding countries. In 1997 alone, peatland fires in Indonesia contributed over 1 giga ton of carbon dioxide, comparable with 15% of all annual global fossil fuel related emissions.
The economic damage by smoke and losses in the tourism & timber sector were estimated at over 8.4 billion US$ in 1997 alone. People in the area suffer heavily from the fires. About 30% of all children under 5 years suffer from respiratory diseases and linked growth inhibition due to the air pollution.
The project is a first step to stop this disaster, protect the remaining peat swamp forests and to promote sustainable land use.
For further information, please contact:
Marcel J. Silvius
PO Box 471, 6700 AL Wageningen
cell phone: +31 (0)6-295 86 096