Greenpeace Mourners Mark Death of Indonesia’s Peatlands

Press release - September 16, 2014
Greenpeace mourners on Monday (15/09/14) placed funeral wreaths on burned peatland in Riau province, highlighting an ongoing crisis and urging president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to secure his “green” legacy by ensuring real peatland protection.

Speaking in a blackened landscape adjacent to Tanjung Leban village in Rokan Hilir district, locally-born Greenpeace forest activist Rusmadya Maharuddin explained that data shows three quarters of Indonesia’s recent hotspots were burning in peatland.(1) The President’s moratorium on new forest concessions clearly does not go far enough to ensure protection for the nation’s peatlands, which store almost 60 billion tonnes of carbon, said Rusmadya.


“We are standing on peatland which should be protected, according to the forest clearing moratorium map. Yet clearing and draining of the wider landscape has left the land as dry as a tinderbox. Ongoing fire destruction and smoke haze are inevitable in this situation."

"Peatland drainage and conversion for plantations is a major driver behind the seasonal fires in Sumatra which blanket Singapore and peninsular Malaysia in a choking smoke haze. If Indonesia is to honor its obligations to prevent transboundary air pollution, the haze must be brought under control by ensuring comprehensive peatlands protection."

Unfortunately the president’s response to the peat crisis has missed the mark. The draft Peat Regulation awaiting his signature fails to protect peatland as an ecosystem-landscape and peat areas within existing concessions. Destroying one part of a peat dome can lead to the rapid demise of the “protected” parts through drying out and edge effects.

Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace’s Forest Political Campaigner, urged the president not to sign the flawed peat regulation in his last days in office.

“Indonesia’s peatland forests are dying. They need strong and comprehensive protection, but the draft peat regulation does not provide that. SBY’s signature on this regulation would sound the death knell for Indonesia’s peatland,” said Yuyun in Jakarta.

“In a weeks’ time SBY will attend his last UN Climate Summit in New York. His only chance to protect peatland before leaving the palace is to send the flawed regulation back to the drawing board to be comprehensively strengthened. And as his successor, we trust Joko Widodo will take up the task of strengthening peatlands protection and extending the moratorium on forest clearing.”

Media Contacts:

  • For Photos: Grace Duran-Cabus, Greenpeace SEA. +63-917-6345126
  • Rusmadya Maharuddin, (in the field), Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia. +62813-654-22373
  • Yuyun Indradi, (quoted), Forest Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia. +628122-6161-759
  • Zamzami, (in the field), Media Campaigner Greenpeace Indonesia, +62811-750-3918,
  • Igor O’Neill, International Communications, Greenpeace Indonesia, +628111-923-721,

Editor’s Notes:

  1. See Greenpeace Briefer “Protecting Indonesia’s peatlands: How the new regulation is a flawed initiative”. Appendix 1 shows fire hotspots in February 2014 in peatland and moratorium areas.