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Practitioner Roundtable on Sustainable Peatland Governance

30 Nov 2018

Audio Recording (in 3 parts)

RoundtablePart 1
RoundtablePart 2
RoundtablePart 3

Presentation Slides

Abdul Halik

WWF Work on Peatland Restoration in Indonesia

Benjamin Tay

Ground Projects

Myrna A. Safitri

Towards a Community-based Peatland Governance: Lessons learned from Desa Peduli Gambut Program 2017-2018


Dr Rini Yuni Astuti, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore


Indonesia is host to more than 15 million hectares tropical peatland. Peatlands provide environmental services such as water catchment, carbon storage and home to many threatened and endangered species. More than 10 million people live and depend directly on Indonesia’s peatlands for their agricultural activities. However, farmers often use slash and burn as the quickest and cheapest way to prepare peatlands for cultivation. This burning practice has been directly linked to wildfires and transboundary haze that impacts neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia. However, farmers and peatland communities are actually those most at risk from the severe health and livelihood impacts of chronic air pollution. Putting an end to this burning practice and shifting to more responsible farming techniques is the key tenet of the Peatland Restoration Agency’s approach in its work with more than 500 peatland villages in Sumatra and Kalimantan. As a result, more peatland farmers are championing a nationwide shift in attitudes to promote a fire-free farming culture to prevent transboundary haze and reduce carbon emissions.

This practitioner roundtable discussion will feature diverse stakeholders in peatland governance who will discuss Indonesia’s agenda in restoring more than two million degraded peatlands through responsible farming techniques. The discussion will feature peatland farmers from Jambi, Riau, South and Central Kalimantan, as well as local government representations, the Peatland Restoration Agency, PM Haze, NUS and NTU academics, and SIIA.

List of Speakers

Dr Myrna Safitri | Peatland Restoration Agency, Indonesia
Mr Kholil | Peatland Farmer, Indonesia
Ms Erni Zulaika | Peatland Farmer, Indonesia
Ms Theti N. A. | Peatland Farmer, Indonesia
Asst Prof Janice Lee | Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Mr Benjamin Tay | People's Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze), Singapore
Dr Alex Cobb | Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology
Mr Abdul Halik | World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Singapore


Abdul Halik is a conservation practitioner with more than 10 years of working experience in South East Asia. He currently works as Conservation Manager for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore. He holds a master's degree in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island, the USA and is a PhD candidate in Political Science from Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. He is particularly interested in topics related to environmental conservation and natural resource management, public deliberation and participation, and corporate social and environmental responsibility.

Alex Cobb is Principal Research Scientist in the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology’s Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling (CENSAM). His work at SMART focuses on ecosystem processes in Southeast Asian peat forests. Alex received his PhD in the physiology of plants from Harvard University in 2006 and first came to Southeast Asia as a Fulbright Fellow to Malaysia in 2000-2001.


Benjamin Tay is currently serving his third term as President of PM.Haze. His journey in civil society started in 2015 when he organised the inaugural people's forum to stop haze in Singapore. Since then he has been involved in various aspects of haze advocacy, as a volunteer, staff member and member of the governing board. He is co-leading PM.Haze's peat rehabilitation project and hopes to reach out and activate more people to stop haze from Singapore. Benjamin also leads community research and partnerships with the National Volunteer and Philanthropy centre. He aspires to be a purposeful nonprofit worker that helps to guide social change. Benjamin graduated with a Master of Asia-Pacific Studies with distinction from the Australian National University.

Janice Lee is Assistant Professor at the Asian School of the Environment at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. Janice studies the processes, mechanisms and consequences of land-use and land-cover change in Southeast Asia, with a focus on tropical deforestation from oil palm agriculture. Janice received her PhD in Environmental Systems Science from ETH Zurich in 2013 and was a postdotoral research fellow at Princeton University from 2014-2016.

Myrna Safitri is Deputy of Education, Socialization, Participation and Partnership at the Peatland Restoration Agency of Indonesia. She holds a PhD in law, governance and development from Leiden University the Netherlands. She has been working on forestry legal reform in Indonesia since 1994, campaigning for people’s rights on land and forest. She has been active in influencing policy making on forestry and natural resources at several government agencies. She was the coordinator of Indonesian CSOs on forest tenure reform.

Photos kind courtesy of Peatland Restoration Agency 
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