Restorasi Ekosistem Riau Continues Momentum with Focus on Biodiversity Research, Fire Protection
A sixth consecutive fire-free year, an increase in the inventory of plant and animal species identified and new biodiversity research initiatives are among the highlights of the latest Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER) Progress Report.
Established in 2013, the RER program restores and protects 150,693 hectares of peat swamp forest on the Kampar Peninsula and Padang Island on Sumatra’s eastern coast. The 2019 report documents the annual achievements of the program, which RER Advisory Chairman, Bey Soo Khiang, describes as “an example of what can be achieved through long-term funding and committed partnerships between business, civil society and community.”
Three areas of activity stand out in this year’s report:
Biodiversity and research
The inventory of species identified inside RER continued to increase. Extensive camera trapping, bird monitoring and floristic surveys recorded 797 species of plants and animals in 2019, compared to 759 species in 2018. These include 76 mammal species, covering five of Sumatra’s six cat species including the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger, as well as seven primates, 307 bird species, 107 species of herpetofauna and 190 species of plants.
Of the 797 species, many are of conservation concern, with 57 listed on the IUCN Red List as being vulnerable (36), endangered (13) or critically endangered (eight). There are also 114 species on the CITES list and 99 species noted by the Government of Indonesia as being protected.
2019 also saw a number of new research initiatives commence. The first insect survey was undertaken, focusing on the Order Odonata which includes dragonflies and damselflies. A pilot study was also carried out to investigate how mammal species respond to the interface or edge between acacia plantation and peat swamp forest.
RER teams also began work with Yayasan SINTAS (Save the Indonesian Nature and Threatened Species) to conduct the first survey of tiger presence on the Kampar Peninsula in support of the Sumatra Wide Tiger Survey and Indonesia’s National Tiger Recovery Program.
2019 was the one of the driest years in the area since 2002, with rainfall 35 per cent below normal on the Kampar Peninsula and 15 per cent below normal on Padang Island, including a 43-day period when no measurable rainfall occurred inside RER. This resulted in a moderate-to-extreme fire danger rating for nearly half of the year.
Despite the challenges this presented, RER teams reported zero hotspots and fires inside the Kampar Peninsula and Padang Island restoration areas for the sixth consecutive year. This achievement was again the result of active fire patrols, formal agreements with communities and the absence of any active land-clearing activity.
The construction of a new Eco-Research Camp is underway which will enhance RER’s operational capabilities and become a focal point for academic and scientific research. Construction began in April 2019 following a robust planning effort. Once completed, the facility will provide an operational base and field office for RER teams, while providing scientists, researchers and stakeholders with an opportunity to study unique characteristics of tropical peat forest and its biodiversity as part of balanced production-protection model.
More than 120 stakeholders visited the RER in 2019, including students and academics, customers and business delegations as well as media and conservation experts. These field visits play a crucial role in helping stakeholders understand the scale of the challenge involved in restoring and protecting a tropical peatland forest landscape. The Eco-Research Camp will greatly enhance this experience.
The full report can be downloaded here.