PEATLAND RESTORATION IS NEW to Southeast Asia. The recovery of damaged peatland is elusive and so far there are no proven solutions that can easily be followed.
People in Riau were fed up with the constant haze (in 2015) and this provided impetus for people to become active participants, put pressure and bring an end to the haze problem.
HARIS GUNAWAN→ The rehabilitation activity in the Riau Province, the peatland restoration, has started with activities involving people, plots of land for rehabilitation, or locations where people can participate and help to restore the land or recover the peatland ecosystem. We need to know that people were fed-up and tired.
ALEXANDER COBB→ One thing that we the scientific community understands very poorly is how to restore vegetation in peatlands. Most of the restoration projects of which I'm aware of mostly focus on trying to stop drainage, because it's clear that we need to do this. But in terms of restoring vegetation, we don't really have much relevant experience. Probably the best success story is the Everglades in Florida. So that's sort of a subtropical peat type system. And there with much effort, they've had some success in restoring the Everglades. But we just don't have that experience in Southeast Asia.
Areas that were logged 30 years ago that were never drained, they were just logged, but still the recovery has been very poor. So 30 years later you still don't find significant recovery of the major species and natural forests in a lot of areas and we really don't understand this very well.
CHARLES HARVEY→ One of the main questions about peatland restoration is how important the actual species growing on the peat are for the peat to form. Whether you need the same trees and plants as exist naturally. But we're hopeful that it could be done and part of our work is actually been focusing on laying the groundwork for that.