Project lists

Improving capacities towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from peat swamp forest fires in Indonesia
25 Feb 2020     

Project title:    Improving capacities towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from peat swamp forest fires in Indonesia  [project ID:  2018P5-IND ]

Supervisory agency:  Ministry of Environment and Forestry

Executing agency:   Forest Research and Development Center, Forestry and Environment Research Development and Innovation Agency(FOERDIA), Ministry of Environment and Forestry

Budget in USD (total / APFNet grant): 498,170 /199,990 

Kick-off date & duration: January 2019, 01/2019-12/2021

Target economy: Indonesia

Site Location: Kalimantan, Indonesia


Project Coordinator: Dr. Haruni Krisnawati (

University of Melbourne: Dr. Luba Volkova (

APFNet: Anna Finke (; Sun Weina ( )

Expected outputs/outcomes and key activities:

1. Improved estimates of GHG emissions (CO2 and non-CO2) from peat swamp forest fires based on comprehensive field measurements;

2. An updated methodology on estimating GHG emissions from PSF for Indonesia’s international reporting;

3. A set of recommendations for reducing GHG emissions from forest fires;

4. High quality peer-reviewed publications making results of the project transparent and readily available for international reporting and verification under the UNFCCC requirements for the result-based payments on emission reduction.


Key activities:

1. Comprehensive literature review, development of a statistically robust experimental design and the baseline of emissions from PSF fires measurement of fuel loads and pyrogenic carbon in the field;

2. Data analysis of the relationship between fire intensity and fuel consumption and emission release;

3. Development of policy recommendations for emission reduction in PSFs based on the results of the field study.


Peatlands – A major factor in climate change

Tropical peatlands have an incredibly high carbon density and thus their destruction has the potential to contribute significantly to global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Indonesia has by far the largest share of the tropical peat forest carbon pool (an estimated 65% of the total), yet it also experiences the most rapid degradation of its peat swamp forests due to strong economic and social pressures for timber and land for agriculture. Clearance and drainage of peat swamp forests (PSFs) over recent decades have resulted in an unprecedented increase in peat fires, with smoke and pollution affecting not only Indonesia, but all of southeastern Asia. Indonesian peat fires in 1997-98 released about 15% of global fossil fuel emissions at the time. Currently emissions from drained and burnt peatlands account for about 5% of the global carbon budget.


At the same time, emissions from peatland fires are currently not included in the official Indonesia reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is because the economy is lacking both empirical data sets and a methodology to measure such emissions with sufficient accuracy. This is preventing the economy from moving from Tier 1, which uses default non-specific formulas, to Tier 2 reporting, which uses economy-specific calculations. Tier 2 reporting is aspired by most economies, as it is one of the requirements to receive results-based compensation, such as from REDD+. 



Fig. 1 Drained peatland in Kalimantan

Not all peat forests burn equally

When currently reporting emissions, without accurate datasets and accounting methodologies, it is currently assumed that during each burn 100% of the peatland burns. This, however, is grossly inaccurate. Peat fires are generally dominated by smoldering combustions, a flameless form of burning. Opposed to normal fires, smoldering fires can persist under low temperatures, in moist conditions and with almost no oxygen and as a result can burn for weeks or months despite rain or changes in fire weather. When the fires do extinguish, without an extensive body of baseline data identifying patterns in burning behavior, it is hard to say how much of the peatland has burned and how much carbon has been emitted. Factors, such as fuels loads (including fuel types), area burned (including severity and patchiness of the burn), combustion factor and emission factor (both determined by the fuel type) ultimately determine how many GHG emissions are released in a given burn.


Developing a new methodology

Aiming to help Indonesia provide that empirical data and calculation methodology, APFNet teamed up with Indonesia’s FOERDIA, the Forest Research and Development Center under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, the University of Melbourne, Australia initiated the new project “Improving Capacities towards Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Peat Swamp Forest Fires in Indonesia”.


In order to provide such new data and methodologies, a comprehensive literature review will be followed by the development of an experimental design for measuring the fuel loads. The experiment sites will include intact PSF and degraded PSFs at various stages of degradation on the largest islands of Indonesia – Kalimantan, close to the city of Palangkaraya at the Tumbang Nusa Research Forest. After obtaining data from sites with different burn stages (not burned, burned once, twice or three+ times), this data will be analyzed to understand the relationship of fire intensity, fuel type, forest degradation stage and emission releases to develop formulas that then can be easily employed to calculate emission estimates for any given piece of land that has experienced burns.


Based on this policy recommendations for emission reduction in peat swamp forests will be developed. Finally, through capacity building and results dissemination, including the publication of the research results in high-quality, peer-reviewed publications, the methodology will be presented to the Indonesian government to be formally adopted in their national reporting.


Project News:

Developing a Burning Interest for Peatlands