How REDD+ supports peatland protection and restoration
Updated: May 27
At the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, almost 65,000 ha of peat swamp forest is protected.
The area was set to be converted into 4 oil palm plantations.
Had the project founders not stepped into this arena in 2008, the world would have lost yet another large tract of land, rich in biodiversity and carbon.
As you approach the project zone from the land side, one must drive through miles and miles of oil palm trees. The efforts of all stakeholders, including project partners at the Tanjung Puting National Park and Orangutan Foundation International has served to protect the fragile ecosystem and act as an essential buffer zone to the National Park. These efforts bring home the importance of the REDD+ framework which has allowed for the financial support and conservation of the area while providing economic incentives to a community who live in the 10 villages bordering the project area.
REDD+ stands for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, plus conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
A forest carbon credit is a way to quantify the emissions that are saved through lowering the rate of deforestation and forest degradation. In other words, carbon offsets give value to keeping forests intact, ensuring that they survive and continue to service the people and wildlife that depend on it.
Peat formation is an ideal carbon sink. The carbon is sequestered and converted into peat through biological activity. Peatlands cover around 3% of the land worldwide. However, they also contain within their organic material a full 30% of the Earth's soil carbon content.
Indonesia’s rainforests are incredible storehouses of carbon.
It is estimated that Indonesia’s peatlands and rainforests store at least 70 billion tons of carbon.
REDD+ is the approach adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forests.
What is “peat”?!
Peat is decaying organic matter—dead plants that haven’t completely rotted yet— and may have formed over thousands of years.
Peatlands are some of the world’s largest carbon sinks. Peat bogs and forests trap twice as much carbon as normal forests. Indonesia has the third-largest area of peatlands in the world.
Healthy ecosystems support life. Peat forests are one of the most important ecosystems, however in recent years, they have been drastically reduced through drainage and conversion to agricultural lands and other activities, their present status as carbon sequestering systems have thus also been reduced significantly, making a project like the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, all that much more impactful.
Peatlands can be found throughout Indonesia, and some have argued that they are more vulnerable to human destruction than any other peatlands in the world.
Over the past 15 years, an estimated 3 million hectares of Indonesia’s peatlands have been burned to make way for farming and logging. This highlights the importance of projects such as the Rimba Raya Reserve that sustainably invests in the protection of a forest, plants native species of trees, develops micro-enterprises that give local stakeholders a sustainable income, has a firefighting and forest monitoring team committed to preventing fires and support the neighboring Tanjung Puting National Park in their own fire prevention activities.
Success is only possible with the continued efforts of all partners including local forest dwelling communities, governments and business partners.
Celebrating World Peatland Day, helps all projects highlight the importance of what they do. By protecting this concession, more than 130 million tonnes of carbon emissions will have been avoided over the lifetime of the project.
The restoration and protection of this peatland forest in Indonesian Borneo, is part of a commitment that supports a community and contributes to all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals- as verified under the Verra SD VISta Standard.
The Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, has significant and tangible impacts which help fight poverty, combat climate change and prevent mass extinctions.