Of the total peat-land in the world reaching 400 million hectares per February 2016, the area of tropical peat-land is only eight percent. Of that amount, as much as 60 percent are in Southeast Asia. Tropical peat-land is the one which has the richest type of peat in carbon stocks. The benefit of the peat-land, that is only 3% of the total land area in the world, is capable of storing 75% carbon in the atmosphere. Indonesia is known to have the largest tropical peat-land which covers around 11.5 million hectares, while Malaysia has only 7 million hectares.
As the country with the largest tropical swamp peat-land ecosystem in the world, it is natural that Indonesia offers itself to be the world's tropical peat-land center. Indonesia’s experience for year in dealing with forest and land fires and restoring and providing peat protection should be a mainstay. Central Kalimantan and Sumatra are among those nominated as tropical peat-land candidate because they have done a lot of research, utilization and all related things to peat-land management programs.
The international response that appreciates Indonesia's performance in the protection, management and restoration of the burnt peat-lands is one of the reasons why Indonesia deserves to be the world's tropical peat-land center. Head of Research, Development and Innovation Agency of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Agus Justianto said that the concept is being discussed.
The management of the tropical peat-land center is planned to be under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) and in collaboration with the Peat-land Restoration Agency (BRG). Currently, the BRG is working on restoration on 2 million hectares of land in 7 provinces until 2019.
BRG itself was set up to deal with peat-land matters and strengthen peat-land regulation through government regulations and ministerial regulations, following the case of forest fires by 2015. According to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the effort contributed significantly to the reduction of hotspots. In 2015 – 2017, the number of hotspots dropped dramatically from nearly 22,000 spots to fewer than 2000 spots. This became a successful story of Indonesia in a bid to become a tropical peat-land center.
Head of the Peat-land Restoration Agency, Nazir Foead said that Indonesia will build a center of tropical peat-land ecosystem in Bogor, West Java. This centre will be a place for information sharing. While the peat-land laboratory is located in Riau, Jambi and Kalimantan. The center of this tropical peat-land ecosystem will be a place of learning for other countries that want to know about tropical peat-land and how to restore and care for tropical peat-land. Nazir also remarked that Indonesia has a lot of research on peat-land, and the research should be featured in the center of the tropical peat-land ecosystem. Indonesia also opens up the economic potential of the swamp peat-land whose moisture and humidity are kept. The potentials include genuine timbers of swamp peat-land as a substitute for acacia, peat-land coffee, forest honey, rubber and pineapple.
The efforts made by Indonesia are certainly not meaningful if not supported by similar activities by other countries. However, Indonesia is only a small part of this vast earth. All countries in the world must have the same responsibility to care for the earth.