In 2013, APRIL Group established Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER), an ecosystem restoration initiative aimed at protecting, restoring and conserving ecologically important peatland forest within Indonesia’s Riau Province.
The programme which operates under 60-year eco-restoration licenses granted by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry is part of APRIL’s commitment
to conserve one hectare for every hectare planted. To date, APRIL has met 83% of its goal with more than 400,000 hectares of forest protected and conserved. In 2015, APRIL pledged USD 100 million for long-term conservation and restoration.
At its inception four years ago, RER began with protecting and restoring 20,000 hectares of peat forest in the Kampar Peninsula, Riau. At the 2015 COP 21 in Paris, APRIL announced the expansion of RER to 150,000 hectares that includes Padang Island, also in Riau province. NGO Partners have over past two years brought their social and scientific expertise to the implementation of the programme.
RER in Kampar Peninsula demonstrates a production – protection landscape approach bringing a model for successful ecosystem restoration which benefits people, wildlife and climate in the ecosystem.
The Kampar Peninsula is particularly important as it has been recognized by BirdLife International and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an Important Bird Area (2004) and Key Biodiversity Area (2006) while the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and WWF identifies Kampar Peninsula as Class II Tiger Conservation Landscape (2007), respectively.
Biodiversity survey in 2015 has identified 550 animals and plant species within RER-managed area in Kampar Peninsula, amongst these 44 species are globally protected as they are included in the IUCN Red List, while 64 species are prohibited and restricted to be traded and 83 species are protected by Indonesia law.
Further, a spatial analysis in 2017 suggests that the 344,000 hectares of peat forest in Kampar Peninsula is the largest remaining block of peat forest in Riau where quality is maintained or even improving and provides an important link between the remaining blocks of natural forest in Riau and Kerumutan Wildlife Conservation area.
Over 80% of RER’s workforce originates from the two regencies in Riau in which RER is located, Pelalawan and Kepulauan Meranti. This demonstrates the commitment of local people to ecosystem restoration and helps RER to establish trust and better understand the needs of forest users.
A very important rule is the need for widespread stakeholder involvement from both local communities and scientific experts. Also, in all cases, restoration must be adapted to the specific site and be continuously monitored, assessed and updated based on results. Local community knowledge and acceptance of institutional ‘restoration’ efforts are essential. Otherwise, new disturbances may occur and delay the restoration or recovery efforts.
Click here to read more on the Q&A session with Bradford Sanders of RER, about the project, the progress being made and the importance of community involvement.