Webinar on “Disaster Management in Indonesia: Peatland Forest Fire and Covid-19 Crisis”

This webinar by Mr Budi S. Wardhana explores the progress and challenges faced by Indonesia concerning peatland restoration and forest fire mitigation effort amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.


Friday, 14 August 2020 – ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute hosted Mr Budi S. Wardhana in a talk on “Disaster Management in Indonesia: Peatland Forest Fire and Covid-19 Crisis”. Mr Wardhana is a Deputy Head of Planning and Cooperation in the office of Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (Badan Restorasi Gambut, BRG). ISEAS Fellow Dr Siwage Dharma Negara chaired the session. Around 70 attendees, including diplomats, researchers, journalists, and members of the public, joined the forum.

Mr Budi Wardhana explained that since its establishment, the BRG has contributed to many attempts of restoration intervention. Dr Siwage Dharma Negara moderated the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Mr Wardhana began with an overview of peatland restoration efforts in Indonesia. He stated that BRG has implemented the Digital Terrain Model by establishing water canals in peatland areas. These are designed to reduce the rate of drainage, thus reducing the spread of peatland fire. Moreover, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), BRG continuously monitors the soil moisture area using SEPAL platform.

Mr Wardhana explained since it was established in 2016, BRG has contributed to many attempts of restoration intervention, including infrastructural projects to build wells and canals, revegetation, economic revitalisation, and community programs. The Agency has also been working with the community on restoration and revitalisation of local peatland economy. One of its flagship programme is the establishment of Peat-care Village Programme (Desa Peduli Gambut). Laying out the results, he claimed that the restoration projects have successfully restored the 778,181-hectare peatland area.

With regards to the restoration efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Wardhana mentioned that the government has initiated Coronavirus Relief for Indonesian Sustainable Peatland (CRISP) Programme. Through this programme, the government attempts to raise awareness by promoting social distancing, discouraging slash-and-burn practices, thus reducing Covid-19. Early warning on haze and continuous supply of assistance to the targeted community was also ensured. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that the pandemic has posed challenges to the forest fire-fighting efforts due to social-distancing measures as well as lack of funding and resources.

Finally, Mr Wardhana fielded questions from the audiences on various issues, including BRG’s restoration target, peatland-friendly commodities, the role of civil society organizations in the project, the economic impact of Covid-19 pandemic to the rural area, and Indonesian efforts to reduce soil-based carbon emissions as part of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Over 70 participants attended the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)