Protecting peatlands could reduce forest fire risk


Protecting Indonesian peatlands could reduce the impacts of forest fires, according to a new study. 

Currently, the Indonesian government has committed to restoring 2.5 million hectares of degraded peatland, with a projected cost of between US$3.2 and US$7 billion.

According to the study, led by the University of Leeds, the 2015 fires in Indonesia resulted in economic losses totalling US$28bn, resulting from damage to plantations, forestry and agriculture, CO2 emissions and health impacts due to exposure to air pollution.

The researchers have demonstrated that the benefits of effective Indonesian peatland restoration will outweigh the cost of restoration. 

The study states that if restoration had already been completed, the area burned in 2015 would have been reduced by 6%, reducing CO2 emissions by 18%, and particulate matter (PM2.5) emission by 24%, preventing 12,000 premature mortalities.

The lead author of the study, Laura Kiely said: ‘There are wide-ranging benefits of peatland restoration, from local reductions in property loss, regional benefits to air quality and public health to global benefits from reduced CO2 emissions.