As a part of the reflection phase of the Participatory Action Research Community-Based Fire Prevention and Peatland Restoration (PAR CBFPR) project, funded by Temasek Foundation and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise, a CIFOR team conducted a desk review in September and October 2018, with a dual focus on community-based fire prevention and peatland restoration practices in the Indonesian islands of Sumatera and Kalimantan. Through content analysis of 36 news articles on community-based fire prevention, 11 on community-based peatland restoration, a thesis on Indonesia’s peatland restoration, and written material shared by Temasek Corporation, the team identified lessons learned from community-based practices in both regions.
Our desk review revealed that initiatives to prevent fire and restore peatland were initiated both by the government and private sector. Some are community-based initiatives, for examples MPA (Masyarakat Peduli Api or Fire Care Community), KTPA (Kelompok Tani Peduli Api or Fire Care Farmer’s Group), DMPA (Desa Makmur Peduli Api or Integrated Forestry and Farming System), DPA (Desa Peduli Api or Fire Care Village), and DPG (Desa Peduli Gambut or Peat Care Village). These initiatives have created opportunities to foster the empowerment and participation of both women and men, as well as networking, incorporating local wisdom, collaborative action, and conflict resolution. Outcomes of such initiatives were said to include a reduction in fire incidents, expanded networks, improved crop productivity and increased income for local communities.
However, insufficient coordination, equipment and infrastructure for fire suppression and public awareness on the impacts of fire emerged as constraints within these initiatives. A further challenge is that fire prevention and peatland restoration initiatives are carried out separately through different institutions, although there may be some overlap in practice. Likewise, there was no evidence of verified monitoring for initiative outcomes.
We recommend harmonizing fire prevention and peatland restoration efforts to reduce costs and improve coordination. Efforts that focus on encouraging behavioral changes, through participatory action and ‘action arenas’ (e.g. specific plots that function as on-the-ground examples), show greater potential to generate long-term impacts than the provision of rewards or incentives. Verified and evidence-based monitoring is key for other stakeholders to learn and scale-up these initiatives.