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The Impact of Logging and Land Use Change in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, published in IPS 2004, No.12

Detection of logging operation

in International Peat Journal of IPS, 2004, No.12, pp. 3-10

kalteng 2004-International Peat Society Number 12.pdf
The Impact of Logging on Land Use Change in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
H.-D.V. Boehm & F. Siegert 1,2

1) Kalteng Consultants,
Kirchstockacher Weg 2, D-85635 Hoehenkirchen, Germany, E-mail:
2) Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Biology Department II, Luisenstr. 14,
D-80333 München & Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH, Worthstr. 49, D-81667 Munchen, Germany


The province of Central Kalimantan contains about three million hectares of peatland, which is one of the larg¬est contiguous areas of tropical peatland in the world. Peat Swamp Forests (PSF) are among the earth's most endangered and least known ecosystems. They have a huge carbon storage capacity but are extremely fragile and liable to disturbance. Local communities have used them extensively for centuries without significant impact on the environment. This changed in 1995 when a programme of massive peatland conversion, the so-called Mega Rice Project (MRP), was initiated with the aim of converting one million hectares of peatland, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, into rice fields. Between 1996 and 1998 more than 4000 km of drainage and irrigation channels were constructed in the designated area. Boosted by the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) episode in 1997, many fires initiated for land clearance purposes spread into pristine forest areas where they continued to burn with great intensity.

The newly established drainage and irrigation system aggravated fire impacts, fostering this disaster. The multi-temporal analysis of six LANDSAT TM images acquired between 1991 and 2000 shows extremely high rates of deforestation during this time. Between 1991 and 2000 the area of forest was reduced at the rate of 3.2% per year. If the situation continues there is a very high risk that most of the peat swamp forest resource in Central Kalimantan will be destroyed within a few years with grave consequences for the hydrology, local climate, biodiversity and livelihood of local people. Unless land use policies are changed to control logging and the drainage of the peatland is stopped recurrent fires will lead to an irrecoverable loss of this unique rainforest ecosystem and release of huge amounts of carbon to the atmosphere. Keywords: logging, remote sensing, GIS, land use, deforestation, tropical rainforest, peat swamp forest, Kalimantan, Borneo