Indonesian Peat Prize competition – a new method to map tropical peatlands

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RESEARCH


Carbon-rich peat swamp forest ecosystem

Indonesian Peat Prize competition – a new method to map tropical peatlands

Indonesian Peat Prize competition – a new method to map tropical peatlands

We are very pleased to announce that RSS, as lead of the International Peat Mapping Team, won the Indonesian Peat Prize this morning! The competition aimed to find a new, more accurate and efficient way of mapping tropical peatland extent and thickness, and the Scientific Advisory Board selected our methodology from a number of highly qualified and innovative competitors. The Indonesian government will use our method to protect and manage peatland areas, accelerate peatland restoration and support Indonesia’s development goals. The Indonesian Geospatial Agency BIG will lead the process of using the winning method to improve the current standard for mapping peatland in a scale of 1:50,000, and will start the process by issuing a BIG regulation on peatland mapping.

Satellite-based technologies

The International Peat Mapping Team deployed satellite-based technologies and airborne LiDAR, combined with established on-the-ground measurements, making them the lead in mapping peatlands that combine accuracy, speed and affordability. The team deployed a product called WorldDEM that uses satellite imagery to model terrain at a 10-meter resolution, as well as imagery from the Sentinel satellites. The methodology also included well-established on-the-ground measurements in order to create a model that could accurately estimate peat thickness.

Two-year contest

The contest to find the best methodology to measure the extent and depth of peat in Indonesia drew 44 teams which included some of the biggest names in peat research and mapping. The Prize’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), a group of scientists and experts who reviewed the finalists’ submissions, reached a unanimous decision that the International Peat Mapping team produced the most accurate, timely and cost-effective methodology for mapping peatlands.

“BIG is pleased and excited that the Prize has produced the best method for mapping peatland that combines accuracy, affordability and timeliness to support BIG’s work in mapping and providing geospatial data and information” said Prof. Dr. Hasanuddin Z. Abidin, Head of BIG.

Peat fires are Major source of GHG emissions

Peat is a major source of carbondioxide emissions when it burns or decomposes. In 2015, peatlands were responsible for 42% of Indonesia’s total emissions. In the devastating 2015 fire season, forests and peat fires caused 100,000 premature deaths, cost the Indonesian economy $16 billion, and released 1.62 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions produced by nearly 350,000 cars. The depth, or thickness, of peat soils is an essential measurement; the deeper the peat is, the more ecological damage, including carbon emissions, results from disturbance. Uncertainty around data and information concerning peatland, particularly the depth of peat, has delayed protection and restoration measures for Indonesia’s peatlands, allowing irresponsible parties to continue business as usual, often resulting in drained peat and fires.

About the Peat Prize

The Indonesian Peat Prize is hosted by the Indonesian Geospatial Information Agency (Badan Informasi Geospasial, BIG), supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, WRI Indonesia and Context Partners. Launched on February 2, 2016 for better peatland management and to fight against global climate change, the Prize received applications from 44 teams from 10 countries. The teams include research institutes, universities, government agencies, private sector companies and consultants, paired with Indonesian partners as required by the prize. In the first phase, the Solution Development Phase, 10 selected teams were tasked to test their methodologies in Bengkalis, Riau, Indonesia. In the final phase, the selected five finalists were again tasked to test their methodology In Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The team

  • Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH, Germany
  • Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), Indonesia
  • Sriwijaya University, Indonesia
  • University of Greifswald, Germany
  • AirBUS, Germany