Many countries use peat land without fear : expert

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A number of countries have used peat land to support their economic growth without any fear of being accused of destroying the environment, a peat land expert said.

Indonesia should do the same as far as it used its peat land properly, Dr. Basuki Sumawinata of the Bogor-based Institute of Agriculture (IPB) said on Sunday.

Among the countries which had taken advantage of peat land for a long time were Malaysia, Canada, Finland and Sweden, he said.

Basuki said Finland and Sweden had used well their peat land for farming and energy sources. "Finland used to burn peat to make way for farm land and plantation but no party lodged protest against the practice and forced them to pay for carbon emissions they released," he said.

Now the country was still taking advantage of peat land but by using expensive technology instead of burning it any longer, he said.

Technology was badly needed to use peat land, he said adding many researches had been conducted on how to use peat land without destroying the environment or releasing carbon.

"Unfortunately, foreign pressure and allegation that Indonesia must be held responsible for the destruction of peat land and the release of carbon dioxides are far stronger than the positive achievement it has gained from the management of peat land for forestry activities or other farming activities in an environmentally friendly manner," he said.

He said the government must be aware of how much economic potentials had lost now that many people relied their livelihood on peat land.

Ecohydro technology was among those used to take advantage of peat land, he said.

According to him, the application of ecohydro technology by a timber estate company on Kampar Peninsula should serve as a reference that peat land could be utilized without destroying the environment.

"We should apply ecohydro technology to take advantage of peat land in other parts of Indonesia. We can do so if we have a high degree of discipline. But these all are up to the government to decide," he said.

Indonesia now had 22 million hectares of peat land but only 6-7 percent of it was taken advantage of, he said. (*)