UNIMAS is one of the key partners of an international consortium for research and education initiatives which focus on the science and management of peatland ecosystems in Asia. The emphasis is on peatlands in Central Kalimantan, Sarawak and Vietnam.
One of the most important output of ICREPE activities to date has been published “Wise Use of Tropical Peatlands: Focus on Southeast Asia”; a synthesis of results and conclusions of the UK Darwin Initiative and the EU-INCO EUTROP, STRAPEAT and RESTORPEAT partnerships, together with proposals for implementing wise use of tropical peatlands; edited by J.O. Rieley and S.E. Page.
UNIMAS involvement in the 15-member ICREPE group began in 2001, and with the support of the European Union (EU) grant, the consortium has since run four projects under its wing. These key projects are highlighted below:
STRAPEAT (Strategies for Implementing Sustainable Management of Peatlands in Borneo – http://www.strapeat.alterra.nl) was recently completed under the EU (INCO-DEV ICA4-CT-2001-10098) grant. The project was aimed at promoting wise use of tropical peatlands by integrating the biophysical, hydrological and socio-economic data to produce strategies for sustainable management. The strategies will be implemented once they have been formulated for practical use in critical peatland areas in Borneo. Local research capability will also be strengthened to enable peatland managers to better understand and address, the different but interrelated processes operating in tropical peatlands. The project will contribute positively to protect the peatland environment, alleviate poverty, and improve the quality of life as well as to reduce health risks to those involve with the ecosystem.
PEATWISE (Educational Tools for Sustainable Management of Peatlands in the Humid Tropics - http://www.peatwise.alterra.nl) is an educational (AsiaLink) project, funded by EU (ASI/B7-301/98/679-015) The overall objective of the project is to develop a curriculum on the sustainable development of peatlands by the introduction of innovative educational methods and tools. This is to promote the wise use of resources, and to enhance sustainable economic development, particularly in the areas of Sarawak and Central Kalimantan, Borneo (Malaysia and Indonesia).
RESTORPEAT (Restoration of Tropical Peatland to Promote Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources – htpp://www.restorpeat.alterra.wur.nl) is another EU supported project (Contract No.:PL 510931) awarded to a fraction of ICREPE members. The project aimed to provide access to existing knowledge and expertise, and to conduct targetted research on restoration of tropical peat swamp forest to promote sustainable livelihoods of the local people.
CARBOPEAT (Carbon-Climate-Human Interactions in Tropical Peatlands), the most recent EU funded project awarded to a section of ICREPE members, is aimed at promoting enhanced understanding of carbon-climate-human-interactions in tropical peatlands; focus is on vulnerabilities of and risks to their carbon pools, linked to mitigation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through the ‘wise use’ of natural resources. This will be conducted by five working groups that will have their findings and recommendations available at three major international symposia and associated workshops in Indonesia, Ireland and Malaysia. The events will be major opportunities to access the latest data and information on tropical peatlands and peat, and to assess their crucial role in the carbon cycle, nationally, regionally and globally. They will provide platforms for advising policy makers and decision takers in the EU and Southeast Asia, and an interface between the scientific community, government agencies, international conventions, NGOs, local communities and the private sector.