Hydrological Monitoring for Protecting Peatlands

Conservation Blog

Natural Laboratory of Peat-swamp Forest (LAHG) area in Sebangau National Park, is a peatland that is particularly prone to fire. Land and forest fires are one of the most prolific disasters affecting peatlands, due to drying of the peat soil. Therefore peatland re-wetting programs have been initiated by institutions located in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan.

Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) conservation team has 3 Hydrology and Dam Development programs, which focus on maintaining the condition of peatlands. These programs include; Rewetting, Reforestation, and Revitalization.

Rewetting peatlands through infrastructure development such asDam construction, Reforestation by planting, then Revitalizing through community empowerment, for example, the Community Nursery,” said BNF Habitat Restoration Officer, Daniel Katopo.

Focussing on rewetting, the Hydrologic monitoring program aims to maintain and monitor peatlands to keep them wet and reduce the likelihood of fires.

Hydrologic monitoring at Canal Ruslan. Photo by BNF | UPT LLG CIMTROP

One of the key causes of peatland drying is the construction of canals, often by logging concessions. The water drained from the peat soil will immediately flow into the canal and then into rivers, like a waterway in the ground.

“Therefore, it is necessary to make Dams, to control the amount of water lost in peatlands that have canals. The amount of Dams also depends on the results of the hydrological and monitoring data that we have done,” he said.

Hydrological data measurements include canal width, water velocity, water level, and peat surface. During the wet season, the surface of the peat rises, and during the dry season, it shrinks. These measurements can be used to calculate the water content in the peat, to determine the success of the re-wetting program.

Daniel also added that the 50,000 hectare area used for hydrological data collection is divided into the Sebangau River and the Bakung River. From the hydrological data collected, we are able to plan and re-wet as required. “We hope that this process can keep peatlands wet, and restore the original condition of peatlands,” he concluded.

Dam building. Photo by Duncan Murrell | BNF | UPT LLG CIMTROP