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Ensuring sustainable peatlands & mangroves in Indonesia

To counter the destruction of mangroves and unsustainable oil palm expansion in Indonesia’s peatlands, we work with the government to improve policies and spatial planning. We also engage with the palm oil industry to promote best management practices in peatlands and ensure the participation of local communities. At the field level, we work with local partners and communities to restore peatlands and mangroves, and improve the livelihoodsof people through Bio-rights micro-credit financing that promotes conservation.

Action Description:

The Problem

The rapid loss of mangrove forests is a threat to Indonesia’s coasts. The conversion to oil palm and acacia plantations is a major threat to the remaining peatlands in Indonesia. This degradation is the result of conflicts of interest, disharmonies between central and local governments, conflicting reference maps, and poor law enforcement.

At the local level, a lack of capacity and awareness about natural resource management threatens to marginalise the voices of those who depend most on the services that healthy mangroves and peatlands provide. In several villages where we work, mangrove forests are under serious threat of conversion, while in others peatswamp forests are threatened by oil palm plantation expansion and fires.

Where we work

We work in several communities in the provinces of South Sumatra, Jambi and Kalimantan. We aim to restore over 200 hectares of degraded peatlands and mangroves, and rehabilitate more than 1000 hectares of wetlands to be managed more sustainably.

Aim of our work

We are working to improve policies related to mangroves and palm oil, and at a local scale to provide livelihoods that reduce poverty while improving the environment.

In villages where mangrove forests are under serious threat from conversion, we help develop policies to protect the remaining trees. As an alternative to cutting down mangroves, Bio-rights empower local communities to develop economically while protecting and rehabilitating degraded mangrove areas. This will be strengthened by participatory mapping that is seeking to designate remaining mangrove areas for protection.

In villages in South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan, we work to strengthen regulations and participatory mapping in order to counter the expansion of oil palm plantations on peatlands. To reduce the risk of fires, we support fire prevention programmes and fire brigades.

We also engage with key stakeholders and support communities to improve their capacity and awareness on Ecosystem Restoration Concessions, Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+),and the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil.

Our approach

With our peatlands database and accurate maps, we support local governments in three provinces in developing better spatial planning and policies that favour sustainable peatlands and best management practices. This initiative will be expanded to other provinces.

With local partners and communities, we work in villages where poverty still lingers and the environment is threatened to implement Bio-rights schemes that empower communities with loans to promote sustainable business while enhancing the environment. In two villages we enable local communities to avoid mangrove conversion and rehabilitate degraded areas. While in three other villages we are aiming to halt oil palm plantation expansion and prevent forest fires in peatland areas by supporting fire brigades.

We also work to ensure that local communities are strengthened to stand up for their rights and avoid being marginalized by the private sector through greater awareness and knowledge on palm oil issues.

To achieve maximum impact, we aim for improved spatial planning policies at higher levels of government. By communicating the effectiveness of our Bio-rights work in restoring damaged ecosystems and providing sustainable livelihoods, we hope to expand and upscale our work in order to protect more of Indonesia’s mangrove coasts and peatlands.


We supported the Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development in reviewing new governmental regulations on peat and swamps. Teaming up with the expert panel, we succeeded in delivering the final draft and ensuring its consistency with the Indonesian national emissions reduction programme. The draft regulation was reviewed in early 2013 and is now awaiting enactment.

During the peatlands and spatial planning workshop in Jambi province, we succeeded in securing commitments from government and other stakeholder to collectively commit to protect the remaining peat swamp forest and manage it more sustainably.

We initiated Bio-rights program in targeted villages in three provinces, combining livelihood activities and ecosystem restoration. In South Sumatra, the community gained additional income from chicken breeding and at the moment they are preparing seedlings to be planted soon in peatlands and mangrove areas. The bio-rights programmes in Jambi and Central Kalimantan are also progressing.

Action Partners:

We work jointly with the following partners to implement our activities:

WahanaBumiHijau (WBH) Foundation

LP3LH Foundation


Ministry of Forestry

Ministry of Agriculture

Ministry of Environment

Indonesian Geo spatial and Information Agency

Provincial – district spatial planning agency, district forestry service, district agriculture/plantation service


Samdhana Institute


Sawit Watch



Perkumpulan Telapak


Jambi University

Bogor Agriculture University