APRIL Ecosystem Restoration Project: A sustainable model for Indonesian peatlands?
The growth in global population and the unsustainable business as usual model adopted by private companies in managing land, are causing huge pressures on Indonesian natural ecosystems. The widespread peatland deforestation and degradation affecting Indonesia has been the leading cause of biodiversity loss, decrease of vital ecosystem services, land subsidence, fires and increased impoverishment of local communities. In response to this issue, the Indonesian government, supported by civil society and scientists, issued in 2004 the Ecosystem Restoration Concession license, a new approach of managing logged out production forests in order to reverse and restore deforested, degraded and damaged ecosystems. In 2013, the Indonesian second largest pulp and paper company, APRIL acquired this licence and launched one of the biggest and most ambitious restoration projects in the country, called RER. This project was implemented in the Kampar Peninsula, Riau province, Sumatra, a vast peatland area unique for its ecosystem services and its flora and fauna species. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the sustainability of the project’s management, conservation and development model. Field observations and qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted on various groups of stakeholders. The study showed that, although the project has generated various benefits, thus having the potential of exceeding the environmental, social and economic costs in the future, several challenges, such as managing land, providing alternative livelihoods and including the participation of local communities were reported. If these problems are not successfully addressed, they risk jeopardising the success of the project and therefore its opportunity of becoming sustainable and widespread.
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