Building on a solid knowledge of the peatlands in Indonesia, we have been very effective in supporting local communities to develop sustainable livelihoods that live in harmony with wet peatlands. In 2017, Wetlands International launched the Indonesian Peatland Partnership Fund / Dana Mitra Gambut Indonesia (DMG-Indonesia) a two-year grant programme to support partnerships between local NGOs and communities to restore and sustainably use peatlands. The Fund accelerated the Indonesian government’s efforts to address the destructive peat fires of 2015, working closely with the Indonesia Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) while engaging community level CSOs.

The Fund was an outgrowth of our community level experience conserving and restoring peatlands, and conviction that communities are a key player in peat landscapes and need to be supported with the means to manage their peatlands well, including enhancing awareness and knowledge, and learning from experience to revive traditional sustainable uses. Communities have traditionally utilised peat swamp forest for their livelihoods and there are hundreds of peat swamp plants and trees known for their economic potential.

The Fund was financed by a foundation and ultimately developed up to 9 different local business solutions. The business models are now supported and implemented by the government.

In 2014, the government pledged to hand over 12.7 million hectares of state forests to rural communities. In part, it is hoped the transfers will cut carbon emissions by slowing deforestation, nurture biodiversity and boost incomes. Agriculture and forestry generated at least a third of national income in 2014, but poverty for those living in or near forests exceeded the national average. Communities often need to build their capacity to implement the agreed upon land management plans and generate sustainable income.