New peat depth map for Dompas village reveals findings that contrast with an existing map

A previous peat depth map for Dompas village, dated 2003, was produced by the Indonesian government’s Research and Development Agency for Agricultural Land Sources (BBSDLP/ Balai Besar Litbang Sumberdaya Lahan Pertanian) using a scale of 1: 250,000 (Figure 1). This map was too coarse to be used, particularly for planning restoration activities at village level. Our preliminary survey during the reflection phase indicated a discrepancy between survey results and this existing map. For example, the ground check showed our ‘action arenas’ to be located on deep peat (more than 5 m in depth), implying that these areas need to be protected. However, the existing map revealed contradictory information. This highlighted the need to update and provide more specific and accurate maps for Dompas village, to better inform planning and future action in the respective ‘action arenas’, ensure quality results and avoid mismanagement.

Figure 1. At a scale of 1:250,000 the existing map of peat depth in Dompas is too coarse to be used for restoration planning at village level. The CIFOR team thus produced a new updated map of peat depth (see Figure 2).

Following the peat depth survey and soil sampling, we were able to produce a peat depth map with a specific focus for Dompas (Figure 2). This more accurate map will help us improve knowledge specifically on: a) better estimation of carbon storage in peat; b) a more accurate calculation of carbon that would be sequestered into the arena as a result of our upcoming rewetting activities; c) justification and stronger arguments for conducting restoration activities in all ‘action arenas’, given that our survey found data that contradicts the existing government map; d) better estimation of areas with high risk of disaster (e.g. flood and recurring fire).

Figure 2. A refined peat depth map for Dompas village produced by the project team with the active participation of local government officials and the Fire Care Community of Dompas. Six project ‘action arenas’ are shown on the right, indicated by six black colored squares. A seventh ‘action arena’ is located in the home gardens of each villager.

Carbon emission or sequestration resulting from the intervention of rewetting and revegetation can be estimated using a carbon stock change approach (IPCC 2006). Using the existing map’s coarse and inaccurate information will yield incorrect estimations of peat carbon storage and changes. The new map will provide more accurate information, enabling accurate estimations of how much carbon will be sequestered in response to restoration activities. The new map also revealed incorrect information on the existing map regarding the distribution and depth of peat in Dompas. Producing a more accurate map means that mismanagement of these protected peatlands has been avoided, e.g. use of heavy machinery for land clearing and pond creation is prohibited to avoid further degradation. It was decided that restoration activities in the protected peat zone (i.e. areas with peat depth greater than 3 m) should not significantly alter the landscape; for example, land clearing should be done without fire and without machinery that will have huge impact on peat surface compaction and disturbance.