The Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) has developed an online platform to monitor peatland restoration activities and prevent wildfires in six provinces.
Dubbed the Peatland Restoration Information Management System (PRIMS), the platform is intended to provide updates on the planning and implementation of restoration activities, monitor restoration and hot spots in peatland areas and provide reports related to these activities.
“The more comprehensive monitoring system [PRIMS] was launched in May as it provides more data compared to Sipalaga [wildfire early detection system],” BRG head Nazir Foead said at a media and NGO discussion on Wednesday.
“[PRIMS] has comprehensive monitoring capabilities because it can record water levels and the water content of soil using satellite imagery,” he said.
The platform, Nazir said, would provide restoration data in BRG’s priority areas in Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and West Kalimantan on Borneo Island, and Jambi, Riau, and South Sumatra on Sumatra Island.
Papua is another of BRG’s priority areas but it has not been included in the PRIMS, he added.
PRIMS also provides an early detection system to monitor possible peatland degradation, Nazir said.
However, Nazir did not show the platform’s interface, demonstrate how it could be accessed or explain whether it was accessible through smartphones or only with specialized devices.
When asked whether the platform could be accessed by the public, Nazir said that it could be accessed by the government, local administrations and other stakeholders such as villagers, NGOs and universities. However, the level of information that can be accessed varies.
“The President can access all the data, but stakeholders can only access information from their area,” Nazir said.
Facing the annual threat of wildfires, Indonesia has set an ambitious target to restore and rewet 1.1 million hectares of critical peatland located on nonconcession land, which includes conservation and protected forests, by 2020.
Peatland restoration efforts began in 2016 and the agency claimed it had restored some 647,000 ha by 2018.
“We hope to restore another 200,000 ha this year to reach 847,000 ha, so we can achieve the target of 1.1 million in 2020,” he said.
He said the BRG had a budget of Rp 300 billion (US$21.03 million) in 2019 but he did not specify how much had been set aside for peatland restoration or developing the PRIMS.
Wildfires, most of which occur in dried-out peatland, have long caused health and safety concerns in the country. The annual problem has also resulted in frequent diplomatic rows with Indonesia’s neighbors, which are affected by haze from the fires.
Speaking at the same event, Central Kalimantan provincial secretary Fachrizal Fitri said wildfires had many impacts on people’s lives.
“Haze from wildfires affects flight schedules and daily activities such as at schools and offices,” said Fachrizal, who is also the chairman of the provincial peatland restoration team.
He said that weather heavily influenced the condition of peatland, adding that weather forecasts indicated a prolonged dry season in 2019 and that the government needed to take preventive measures.