The Challenge. Recurring forest and land fires in Indonesia result in devastating impacts to the health and economy of local communities, as well as biodiversity loss and skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the World Bank, in 2015, this human-induced disaster cost Indonesia $16 billion in damages. In Central Kalimantan Province, the threat is made worse by large drainage canals that remove moisture from the peat, leaving the soil highly prone to fire. Recently, various government agencies, including Ministry of Public Works, Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) and local government, have been spurred into action to restrict water flow out of the peatlands in Pulang Pisau District, Central Kalimantan. The initiative aims to keep water levels high and peatlands moist during the dry season, provide adequate drainage to mitigate flooding in the rainy season, and enable limited access for local communities in support of sustainable livelihoods.
FPIC. In support of this initiative, USAID LESTARI recently completed a model stakeholder engagement activity involving the facilitation of FPIC in villages covering around 30,000 ha of degraded peatland. This peatland is part of an area that covers less than 5% of the province yet accounted for 30% of all fire impacts in 2015. FPIC facilitation ensured that communities are well informed about canal blocking; have an opportunity to provide inputs; and give their willing consent to construct, maintain, and protect the dams. Notably, local communities were able to influence the design of dams so that their small boats can pass through spillways in order to maintain their livelihoods. LESTARI provided technical and financial support for the FPIC process mediated by the district-level multi-stakeholder forum. It adhered to both USAID and BRG social safeguard guidelines for FPIC.
Landmark Achievement. The FPIC process was widely embraced by local communities and government agencies and culminated in formal recognition (Berita Acara) that provides legal legitimacy. BRG acknowledged that this is a first for Indonesia in peatland restoration through canal blocking based upon FPIC. Moving forward, BRG has made it clear that any party that conducts canal blocking in the area must be subject to commitments for FPIC. In order to institutionalize the approach and promote its sustainability, LESTARI obtained agreement that FPIC would become Standard Operating Procedure for canal blocking design and implementation in Public Works guidelines. The head of BRG has also decided that the LESTARI-supported FPIC process will serve a model for more sustainable and inclusive land use planning in Sumatra.