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Beyond Fires and Deforestation: Tackling Land Subsidence in Peatland Areas, a Case Study from Riau, Indonesia

Department of Human Geography and Planning, Faculty of Geosciences, University of Utrecht, Vening Meinesz Building, Princetonlaan 8A, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Department of Development Geography, Faculty of Geography, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Bulaksumur, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia
Received: 27 March 2019 / Revised: 20 April 2019 / Accepted: 25 April 2019 / Published: 30 April 2019
PDF [1933 KB, uploaded 9 May 2019]


Peatland plays an important ecological and economic role in many countries all over the world. At the same time, due to various human and non-human interventions, peatland is also a fragile ecosystem, which is currently facing severe problems, such as deforestation, fires, and peat subsidence. Peat subsidence is currently one of the most severe but least recognized issues. Because of its interconnectedness with other peatland problems, peat subsidence intensifies when there is a lack of proper interventions. In this paper, types of problems that arise along with and from peat subsidence and how various actors deal with it are going to be analysed. This paper illustrates an example from peatland areas in Indonesia and addresses two questions: (1) what kinds of problems are related to peat subsidence? In addition, (2) how do various actors deal with peat subsidence and what are the consequences of their interventions? Based on in-depth interviews with key persons from government institutions and NGOs, followed by focus group discussions with communities, analyses of policies, and desk study, this research discovered that peat subsidence is a hidden problem that is highly interconnected with other peatland problems that have caused severe physical-environment and socioeconomic impacts. While various actors have taken numerous interventions to deal with deforestation and fires, those concerning peat subsidence are still limited. Since dealing with peatland problems as a whole requires an ecosystem-based intervention, a more comprehensive approach is needed to manage peat subsidence. View Full-Text
Keywords: peatland; peat subsidence; the governments; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); communities; Riau peatland; peat subsidence; the governments; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); communities; Riau

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Saputra, E. Beyond Fires and Deforestation: Tackling Land Subsidence in Peatland Areas, a Case Study from Riau, Indonesia. Land 2019, 8, 76.

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