So far no true paludicultures have been established in Southeast Asia. However, during the past ten years numerous reforestation trials on degraded peatlands have been developed with promising results and around 400 species have been identified that could potentially be used in paludiculture. Wetlands International promotes and facilitates paludicultures as they help stop peat oxidation and simultaneously provide sustainable harvests from peatlands which can be profitable and provide livelihood opportunities for local communities.
Non-timber forest products
Paludicultures have the potential to be commercially planted on rewetted peatlands. A popular species often planted in reforestation attempts is Jelutung (Dyera sp.), a latex producing tree. The latex has a variety of uses, ranging from rubber to biological chewing gum production.
Photo: features latex harvesting in a swamp jelutung (Dyera polyphylla) plantation in Jambi, Sumatra (Wim Giesen)
The timber is suitable for pencils, carving and model making. The Wetlands International Indonesia Programme planted Jelutung trees in peatland rehabilitation projects in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Other typically planted species are valuable hardwood timbers, such as Belangiran (Shorea balangeran) or Ramin (Gonystylus bancanus).
Alternatives for Acacia
Moreover, pioneer species, such as Alstonia pneumatophora, Combretocarpus rotundatus and Macaranga pruinosa, which dominate after disturbances, are possible surrogates to exotic Acacia species in the production of pulp. One of the most promising species is Melaleuca spp. which is already widely used for its timber, pulp, aromatic oil and has good properties to host bee colonies to produce honey.
Moreover, pioneer species, such as Alstonia pneumatophora, Combretocarpus rotundatus and Macaranga pruinosa, which dominate after disturbances, are possible surrogates to exotic Acacia species in the production of pulp. Gemor (Alseodaphne coriacea) is a well-known peat swamp tree that is harvested in the wild and is in fact often locally overexploited. The bark of this medicinal plant is used as a mosquito repellent and sold on local markets. This species is only one example of numerous medicinal plants that could be widely planted on rewetted peatlands.
Food production is extremely important in rural areas of Indonesia. In the inhabited peatlands of
Sumatra and Kalimantan, trials with food plants that do not require drainage need to be developed, especially with permanent crops that reduce the fire risks associated with annual crops and related
land clearing practices. Traditional mixed tree gardens with fruit trees and wet agroforestry schemes are promising ways of developing smallholder paludicultures that focus on food and NTFP production.
Picture: harvesting starch from the sago palm which requires cutting down the palm tree to reach the inner kernel. The wood track is used for transportation. The harvest is processed into noodles, cookies and breads (Riau, Sumatra).
Other low intensity uses
Other traditional low-intensity uses include subsistence hunting and fishing. Especially in tropical peat swamp forests, fisheries are a major economic activity. Aquaculture of indigenous fish species can be an attractive land-use option and offer economic incentives for local communities in areas where many drainage canals must be blocked for hydrological restoration.