Jakarta Statement on the Importance of Tropical Peatlands



The importance of peatlands to national economies and the environment was highlighted August 22-23, 2001 at the International Symposium on Tropical Peatlands, entitled "Peatlands for People", which was attended by over 200 peatland scientists and managers from Indonesia and 10 other nations. Opening statements by the Indonesian Ministers of Research and Technology, Forestry, and Environment outlined their Government’s strong commitment to the sustainable use of Indonesia’s peatland resources through sound science and wise use. The Ministers welcomed the opportunities generated by this symposium and emphasized the willingness of the Indonesian Government to lead new initiatives with partner agencies in all sectors of peatland management. This symposium was timely and encouraged new initiatives for all tropical peatlands.

A wealth of new research and practical approaches to management of tropical peatland was reported at this Symposium, information that will assist people and governments throughout Southeast Asia and other tropical regions in their understanding and valuing of peatland resources. The results of the Symposium will include a published proceedings and establishment of an international network of tropical peatland science expertise in cooperation with groups such as the Indonesian Peat Association and International Peat Society. The conclusions of the Symposium provide a challenge for planners and decision-makers who now must recognize the limitations in use of tropical peatland resources.

The Symposium:

NOTED that this is a time of new beginnings in Indonesia with the meeting closely following the inauguration of a new national Government;

WELCOMED that countries such as Indonesia now have a broad spectrum of peatland and forest management expertise with many young and enthusiastic researchers and scientists eager to ensure the wise use of peatland resources;

IDENTIFIED regional cooperation on peatland issues as a priority;

WELCOMED the interest of international organizations and other governments in the region supporting new efforts for the mitigation of impacts of past management decisions affecting tropical peatlands, and calling for urgent action to prevent future peat swamp forest fires;

IDENTIFIED the importance of tropical peatlands to global biodiversity, forestry and climate change issues and their critical role in carbon cycling and deposition;

ACKNOWLEDGED that peatland fires have been a major environmental problem in Southeast Asia in recent years, and again this year, resulting in serious regional atmospheric haze effects on people and the environment;

RECOGNIZED that peatland fires have been promoted largely by land use change and logging practices, particularly in Kalimantan and Sumatra;

URGED the Indonesian Government to uphold its commitment to prevent further development on peatland with peat over three metres in thickness;

WELCOMED the role of national and provincial governments as well as local communities in charting a new course for tropical peatlands;

URGED that greater attention be focused on the conservation of peatland biodiversity and carbon stores as well as sustainable use of peatlands, particularly peat swamp forests;

ENCOURAGED STRONGLY investment by international governments and the private sector in the conservation and restoration of tropical peatlands while also PROMOTING wise use and rural sustainable development of these ecosystems;

EMPHASIZED the need for new partnerships, capacity building and application of appropriate technology as key elements of such investment;

DETERMINED that the need for new financial resources to support these peatland initiatives is pressing and vital especially to enable local government authorities to undertake their new devolved responsibilities.

Endorsed by the participants at the International Symposium on Tropical Peatlands, at Jakarta, Indonesia on August 23, 2001.

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