Strengthening Immunity of Communities from Peatlands

Roni Antoni, An activist of Gemawan

 

Peat and Mangrove Restoration: Mitigation and Adaptation of Climate Change

A research shows that peatlands have a function to prevent climate change, natural disasters, to becoming a support on the economy of surrounding communities. Therefore, that maintaining the peat ecosystem will give positive benefits for humans. With a total peatland in West Kalimantan of 1.68 million hectares, West Kalimantan is one of the priority provinces in the peat restoration program initiated by the government with a peat restoration target of 149,902 hectares in West Kalimantan.

Through Presidential Decree Number 1 of 2016 on the Establishment of the Peat Restoration Agency (BRG), the government established a non-structural institution with the task to facilitate the acceleration of peat restoration implementation as a result of forest and land fires occurred in 2015. Forest and land with an area of ​​2.6 million hectares were severely burned at that time including peatlands in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. BRG is mandated to restore 2 million hectares of damaged peatlands in Papua, Riau, South Sumatra, Jambi, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and West Kalimantan.

BRG is mandated to conduct peat restoration through three main strategies: rewetting, revegetating, and revitalizing livelihoods. The peat restoration strategy was translated by Deputy III of BRG by declaring the Peat Care Village (DPG) program, which became a framework for the program and activity harmonization in peat villages as well as became a common measuring tool to determine the program’s contribution to achieve village progress. DPG is a community-based approach for peatland restoration at the basic level. Community involvement in the peatland restoration program, at least, targets two things: firstly, prevention of peatland fires; and secondly, an increase on the economic income of the communities. These targets will be achieved by implementing sustainable agricultural practices through non-burning land management (PLTB).

In 2018, BRG started to introduce the PLTB method to communities in peat villages through the Peat Farmer Field School (SLPG). In field school, the farmers were taught how to manage land without burning it, make organic fertilizers, and take care of plants to increase crop productivity. The learning at SLPG was then practiced through the making of mini demonstration plots (demplot) as a learning medium for the farmers’ community in the village. The types of commodities planted in the demonstration plots also varied. The community commonly developed horticultural plants such as gingers, chillies, eggplants, cucumbers, long beans, watermelons, corns, pineapples and other vegetables.

In the journey, BRG transformed into BRGM (Peat and Mangrove Restoration Agency) through Presidential Regulation No. 120 of 2020 on Peat and Mangrove Restoration Agency. This Presidential Regulation expands the work area of BRGM into facilitating the acceleration of peat restoration and improvement of community welfare in the areas of peat restoration as well as accelerating mangrove rehabilitation in the target provinces. This Presidential Regulation also shows the government’s serious intention for environmental recovery and mitigation and adaptation of climate change.

 

Home Gardening: Strengthening Immunity from Yard

In the midst of social restrictions implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19, there is a need to carry out activities which can maintain food security and improve household immune systems through nutrition and herbs. Participation of communities is highly important to ensure that the environment is not only protected from further degradation, but also improves the social and economic status of the communities, through the improvement of food security and household nutrition. Therefore, BRGM makes serious efforts to develop home gardening activities by providing useful vegetables and spices for the communities in DPG to help enhance the immunity of the people.

Gemawan has been conducting a home garden unit development program for the communities in the Peat Care Independent Villages (DMPG) in two regencies in West Kalimantan, they are: Mempawah and Kubu Raya regencies. This program has been running since May 2021 to August 2021 with the support from UKAid and the Peat and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM)-United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The Development Program of 30 Home Garden Units for Community Resilience in a Pandemic Situation of COVID-19 in Five Peat Care Villages in West Kalimantan aims to improve food security of the communities in a pandemic situation which has been going on for nearly two years and to enhance the capacity of the communities in utilizing the production of their own crops.

The five DMPG for the locations of the program implementation spread over two administrative areas, they are: Mempawah and Kubu Raya regencies. In Mempawah, the program implementation locations are in Wajok Hilir Village, Jungkat Village, and Galang Village. Meanwhile, Sungai Nipah Village and Kuala Dua Village became the points of program implementation in Kubu Raya Regency. Through this program, Gemawan will support gardening activities in house yards located on peat land by developing 6 units of learning centers and main home gardens, as well as 24 units of support home gardens (yard gardens /mini demonstration plots). As its name indicates, the learning centers function as the primary centers of learning for groups around the locations of the learning centers, while the support home gardens will be the locations for implementing the learning outcomes obtained in the field school.

The program has been conducted with a series of activities, starting from socialization and initial assistance, home garden development, as well as technical assistance involving a number of experts and academics. The socialization and initial assistance aim to discuss the details of the activities to be carried out. In the implementation, the home gardens will be built at people’s yards located in peat areas. Out of the six units of the learning centers, three units will be built in three villages, while the remaining three units will be built at Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) – two pesantren in Kubu Raya and one in Mempawah. The partnership with pesantren is a strategic step in developing similar schemes in other similar institutions, considering the large network of pesantren. In addition, pesantren has a distinctive social construction with the surrounding communities. It is hoped that the success of learning center and home garden development in Islamic boarding schools will initiate residents around the pesantren environment to replicate the introduced sustainable agriculture program.

In each learning center, group capacity building was carried out through SLPG by conveying the non-burning land management (PLTB) method. By far, PLTB has proven to be an effective method that can raise community’s economic income and prevent forest and land fires. A total of 30 groups received capacity building from experts in the peatland fertility field, experts on plant development and productivity, as well as experts on prevention and management of plant pests. A total of 248 people, consisting of 138 men and 110 women, were actively involved during the activity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to “live with” the coronavirus to an unknown time. This deterministic attitude is not without reason, because various collective efforts taken have not shown significant achievements. Hence, the best way for us is to maintain the body’s immunity through nutrient and nutrition while implementing health protocols in social interactions. The development program of the learning centers and home gardens is expected to generate many similar initiatives to bring closer access to nutrient and nutrition sources.

 

References:

BRGM. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://brg.go.id: https://brg.go.id/gambut-menyimpan-beragam-manfaat-bagi-manusia-dan-patut-dilestarikan/

BRGM. (2020, December 02). Retrieved July 25, 2021, from https://brg.go.id/: https://brg.go.id/siaranpers/lanjutkan-pemulihan-gambut-dan-mangrove-pemerintah-perkuat-kebijakan-iklim/

Hadrian, P. (2017, May 05). Mongabay. Retrieved from https://www.mongabay.co.id/: https://www.mongabay.co.id/2017/05/05/target-restorasi-gambut-di-kalimantan-barat-seperti-apa-bagian-1/

KLHK. (2021, July 23). Sipongi MenLHK. Retrieved from http://sipongi.menlhk.go.id/: http://sipongi.menlhk.go.id/hotspot/luas_kebakaran

 

Editor: Mohammad Reza

Source: First published on the page of Suara Pemred Kalbar on July 26 2021 entitled Memperkuat Imunitas Komunitas dari Lahan Gambut

 

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