ASEAN Regional Capacity Building Workshop on Community-Based Fire Prevention, Sustainable Livelihoods and Paludiculture Practices

The Global Environment Centre (GEC) together with Yayasan Gambut supported by the ASEAN Secretariat under the Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia (MAHFSA) program held the ASEAN Regional Capacity Building Workshop on Community-based Fire Prevention, Sustainable Livelihood and Paludiculture Practice in Riau Province, Indonesia. This activity was held for 4 days on 8-11 August 2023, with indoor training and sharing sessions, as well as visits to 4 villages, namely Sepahat Village, Temiang Village, Kelemantan Barat Village and Ketam Putih Village in Bengkalis Regency, Riau Province. The MAHFSA program is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to support efforts to reduce transboundary haze pollution and its impacts in Southeast Asia.

Mulyadi, Director of Yayasan Gambut is explaining about sustainable peat management

The workshop involved representatives from 8 ASEAN Member States, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This activity is a form of capacity building for the community from ASEAN countries by exchanging knowledge in terms of best practices for improving and empowering communities in sustainable peatland management and livelihood. Three aspects covered by the workshop were community-based fire prevention, community livelihoods and paludiculture practices.

Land Fire Prevention in Sepahat Village

Sepahat Village has a peat distribution of 9,056.33 hectares with a high level of fire risk. There are 360 km of canals in the village, and drought on peatlands is a major factor in the fires. Based on the hotspot analysis data from Terra Aqua Modis satellite, there were 360 hotspots detected in Sepahat Village from 2010 to 2018 with confidencelevel above 70.

Masyarakat Peduli Bencana (MPB) Sepahat Village conducted a land fire extinguishing simulation

Given the above condition, Yayasan Gambut supported by GEC provided assistance to the Masyarakat Peduli Bencana (MPB) of Sepahat Village and the village government in the efforts to prevent fires on peatland. Activities that have been carried out include forest rehabilitation by planting 1200 pulai and geronggang trees, 216 sago palms, building 2 canal blocks, canal mapping and installing fire danger information boards.

The visit to Sepahat Village saw the best practicesof the MPB by simulations of the extinguishing process during a fire. The participants were invited to see the process of how the MPB team detected a fire, and worked up to extinguishing the fire.

Community Livelihoods on Peatlands in Temiang Village

In Temiang Village, there is the Makmur Jaya Women’s Farmer Group (KTWMJ) which consists of around 20 women.  KTWMJ has been utilizing the surrounding land where they live to produce products with high economic value, through zero burning farming. Temiang Village is located in the Bukit Batu Wildlife Sanctuary which is also included in the Giam Siak Kecil Biosphere Landscape, and has a peat distribution of 15,459.65 hectares with a peat depth of 1 to 4 meters.

Visit Coffee Agroforestry Site at Temiang Village, all participants also participated in planting coffee

Yayasan Gambut and KTWMJ have agreed to jointly produce environmentally friendly products and put high importance on environmental sustainability, especially on peatlands. Peatlands are used for agriculture without burning, including coffee agroforestry in between rubber plants, red ginger demplots, and ginger and coffee nursery. In addition, Yayasan Gambut also provided support to the Temiang Village Government in the form of canal block contruction and fire warning display boards. Yayasan Gambut also provided financial management training to KTWMJ for them to manage the group’s finances.

tuti, head of the Makmur Jaya women farmer group demonstrating the ecoprint process using natural dyes

During the visit, participants were invited to see the products made by KTWMJ and taste the local dishes that have been prepared. Participants also had the opportunity to plant liberica coffee in KTWMJ’s demplot guided by the community. Last but not least, participants saw a demonstration of printing patterns on fabric using ecoprint technique, and dyeing fabrics with natural dyes made from various plants on peatlands.

Paludiculture Practice of Sago Plants in Kelemantan Barat Village and Ketam Putih Village

Paludiculture is one of the agricultural systems on wet peatlands, which is part of the strategy used in peatlands to maintain wet land conditions. The term paludiculture in Indonesia refers to native/local plants in swamp area including peatlands to improve the economy and welfare of the communities around peatland areas. Sago is one of the plants that lives and develops well in puddles of peat swamps even in areas with inundation throughout the year.

participants visited a sago plantation in the Kelemantan Barat Village

In 2015, the area of sago plantations in Riau Province reached 82,713 hectares consisting of community plantations covering an area of 62,513 hectares (75.57%) and private plantations covering an area of 20,200 hectares (24.43%). To get to know the paludiculture practice, site visits were arranged in 2 villages in Bengkalis Regency which have a sago plantation area of 2,870 hectares. Participants visited a sago plantation in Kelemantan Barat Village, followed by a visit to a sago refinery in Ketam Putih Village to see the steps in sago processing. The purpose of this visit was to help the participants gain an understanding of the sago processing process, from upstream to downstream. The participants were also served various delicacy of sago products, which are also part of the community’s food security.

participants visited a sago factory in the Ketam Putih Village

At the end of the workshop, participants gave a presentation about the experience and knowledge gained during the field trip, and ideas for the follow-up of this activity in the future. Gratitude was expressed to the Riau Provincial Government, Bengkalis Regency Government, and Sepahat Village Government, as well as the Temiang Village, West Kalimantan Village, and Ketam Putih Village, as well as to the committee and all parties involved in making this activity a success.