The potential role of coconut in improving the sustainability of agriculture on tropical peatland: A case study of 32 years' practice in Pulau Burung District

Nurul I. Fawzi, Annisa N. Rahmasary, Ika Z. Qurani
2021 Mires and Peat  
Catastrophic forest and land fires have turned a global spotlight on tropical peatlands in Indonesia. The consequent reformulation of Indonesian land-use policy has been complicated by the existence of two apparently opposing objectives, namely conservation and development. In many regions of the country, peatland agriculture is one of the pillars of development, but its sustainability is questioned. This article focuses on a coconut plantation managed by local stakeholders on peatland in Pulau
more » ... Burung District (Riau Province) where excellent productivity has been achieved, promoting Indonesia as the world's largest supplier of coconut. Quantitative and qualitative approaches are employed to examine the sustainability of this agricultural system over a period of 32 years; in terms of water management, land management and socioeconomic development. The fundamental determinant of sustainability in this system is integrated water management which confined the annual range of water table fluctuations in 2018–2019 to 25–71 cm below ground surface. The resulting long-term rate of subsidence is 1.7 cm yr-1, or up to 80 % lower than reported from peatland agriculture elsewhere. The combination of water management, land management and shared understanding in Pulau Burung means that the risk of peat fires is minimal. In 2013–2018, the plantation produced coconuts at an average rate of 6,500 ha-1 yr-1. This converts to the standard international unit of copra productivity as 1.3 t ha 1 yr-1, which is 55 % higher than the productivity achieved by Indonesia as a whole and 20 % higher than the corresponding global figure. A significant socioeconomic outcome has been the elevation of a village to a district encompassing 14 villages, with attendant benefits for local people in terms of living conditions and improved access to food, goods, services and education. We conclude that the integrated water management and interdependence of local stakeholders in Pulau Burung has managed to balance the peatland's role in developing human [...]
doi:10.19189/map.2021.omb.sta.2204 doaj:ad88cbe65b4243cbb2ab644140caeddb fatcat:6nnezzjx6bdchitnnjnhy3dvry