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Land Cover Change on Peatland in Kalimantan Indonesia between 1999 and 2003; 6-2004

Landsat image 119-61+62 web/kt/dyn/pdf_files/kalteng 2004-272 BOEHM TAMPERE 04.04.2004.pdf presented at
12th International Peat Congress under the topic "Wise use of Peatlands"
in Tampere, Finland on 6 - 11. June 2004
by H.-D.V. Boehm

Kalteng Consultants,
Kirchstockacher Weg,
D-85635 Hoehenkirchen, near Munich, Germany,
Tel: +49-8102-774848, Fax: +49-8102-774850,

Summary / Abstract

Vast areas of peat swamp forest (PSF) cover the coastal plains of Central Kalimantan from the coast of the Java Sea to the provincial capital of Palangka Raya, to Sampit, to Pangkalanbun and further North. PSF is among the earth's most endangered ecosystem, with a huge carbon storage capacity, extremely fragile to disturbance. Several Landsat ETM images 118-61, 118-62 (2003 only), 119-61 and 119-62, acquired between 1999 and 2003, were compared using detailed multi-temporal analysis. These images show major changes in this largest remnant of tropical peatland related to extreme rates of deforestation, the worst fires in 2002, since 1997. Of the 5.6 million hectare land around Sampit, 4.8 million hectare were processed, 2.5 million hectare for 1999 and 2003. It was found that oil palm plantation (Elaeis guineensis) between Palangkanbun and Sampit increased by more than 50 % from approx. 143,000 ha 5.7% in 1999 to 218,000 ha 8.7% in 2003. In the West of the Katingan river there are many places with small-scale gold mining in quartz-sand.

With the establishment of the Mega Rice Project (MRP), many people were able to enter the previously inaccessible interior of this peatland landscape, exploit residual timber resources, mostly on an illegal basis, and using fire for land clearance as the most economical method. During the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in 1997 and 2002, many of these fires spread to open forest areas and continued to burn with great intensity, than also burning the peat below the vegetation and releasing large amounts of carbon. The minor el Nino of 2002 led to human health problems, although somewhat less serious than in 1997. Our analysis suggests that previous legal logging prepared the ground for further degradation of forests by fire, illegal logging and oil palm farming. The different blocks from MRP were analysed and classified with the Landsat images taken on 15 Feb. 2003, after the 2002 fires, which covered in average 16.2% (227,000 ha) in the 1.4 million hectare blocks A, B, C, E, E2, E3 and E4. Block B had with 35.7% the largest amount of burn scars. If this situation continues there is a high risk of most peat swamp forest of Central Kalimantan being destroyed within a few years. This would have grave consequences for the local hydrology, climate, biodiversity and livelihood of local population. Keywords: Central-Kalimantan, Tropical Peatlands + PSF, Oil palm estates, Remote Sensing + GIS, Peat-Fires

Landsat image 119-62