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1 PEATLAND UTILISATION IN MALAYSIA: THE PRESENT STATUS by James Dawos Mamit, MP President, the Malaysian Peat Society & Environmental Advisor to Sarawak.

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Presentation on theme: "1 PEATLAND UTILISATION IN MALAYSIA: THE PRESENT STATUS by James Dawos Mamit, MP President, the Malaysian Peat Society & Environmental Advisor to Sarawak."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 PEATLAND UTILISATION IN MALAYSIA: THE PRESENT STATUS by James Dawos Mamit, MP President, the Malaysian Peat Society & Environmental Advisor to Sarawak State Govt. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

2 2 Peatland Distribution Peatland Distribution Peatland area in Malaysia:   Total Area: approximately 2.4 million ha (8% of country’s total land area).   1.6 million ha in Sarawak (13% of State’s land area) Characteristics:   Intersected by rivers, deltaic channels & streams   65% organic matter   pH 3.85 – 4.15   Permanently saturated with water IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

3 3 Land area - 328,750 km 2 Malaysia million ha Peninsular million ha Sarawak million ha Sabah million ha

4 4 Economic Importance …. Forestry:   RM5 billion worth of timber products (33% of total export earnings of timber) from Sarawak.   Present rate of extraction in natural forests 600,000 m 3 in PSF in Sarawak, mainly from areas designated as Permanent Forest Estate.   No timber extraction in Peninsular & Sabah due to depletion. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

5 5 Economic Importance …. Oil Palm Plantation:   About 400,000 ha already in mature plantations in Peninsular.   About 635,000 ha already planted in Sarawak from a total 800,000 ha alienated as plantations. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

6 6 Economic Importance …. : Ecotourism:  Unique ecosystems; High diversity of flora; High diversity of fauna; such as Orang Utan, Red-Banded Langur & Proboscis Monkey.  : Latex, fruits, bark (no longer done) & medicinal plants (potential).  Non-timber products: Latex, fruits, bark (no longer done) & medicinal plants (potential). IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

7 7 Environmental Significance ….  :  Maintaining global carbon balance: 15% of global peatland carbon reside in tropical peatland; draining of peatland oxidises carbon & CO 2 is released into the atmosphere.  :  Providing reservoirs of freshwater: peat dome has high water retention capacity; groundwater recharge is dependent upon ratio of depth of peatland dome, vegetation & water table gradient. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

8 8 Environmental Significance ….  : peat releases stored water during drier period, acts as sponges & absorbs water during heavy rainfall, thereby reducing flood peaks & mitigating flooding & water stress.  Stabilizing water levels: peat releases stored water during drier period, acts as sponges & absorbs water during heavy rainfall, thereby reducing flood peaks & mitigating flooding & water stress.  :  Buffer against saline intrusion: waterlogged condition maintains constant base flows of underground water, preventing saline intrusion further upstream. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

9 9 Impact of Peatland Development ….  Degradation of Peat Swamp Forest (PSF) Ecosystem:  Repeated forest harvesting leads to destruction of forest ecosystems & fauna habitats, causing hosts of fauna species to take refuge in neighbouring areas & become pests.  Loss of forest cover by conversion to agriculture plantations causes plant & animal species to disappear or perish; Red-banded langur most affected. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

10 10 Impact of Peatland Development ….   Soil subsidence:  Draining of peatland lowers water table causing subsidence  Rate of subsidence 20 – 50 cm per year over a period of 5 years after drainage & thereafter 5 cm per year.  :  Oxidation & acidity:  Peatland water is acidic & once drained, peatwater causes severe damage to flora & fauna habitats in adjacent areas.  Compaction or shrinkage of peat soils may cause groundwater containing fertilizer or pesticide residues to flow from agricultural area to adjacent water catchment area. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

11 11 Impact of Peatland Development ….  Flooding & loss of water supply sources:  Conversion of peatland into non-peat diminishes water retention capability, resulting in greater discharge volume of water from surface runoff rather than underground recharge, thus greater risk of downstream flooding.  Loss of water catchment areas, jeopardising water- supply intake. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

12 12 Impact of Peatland Development ….  Water pollution:  Agricultural NPS is leading source of water pollution  Nitrates & phosphates have eutrophication effect  Pesticides & fertilizers IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

13 13 Impact of Peatland Development ….  Air pollution from peatland fires:  Peatland fires create much more smoke & difficult to extinguish, smoldering underground.  Fire hazard during prolonged drought  Available peatland in Peninsular already degraded by fires. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

14 14 Impact of Peatland Development ….  Loss of biodiversity:  Conversion to other land uses destroy forest stands & wildlife habitats IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

15 15 Impact of Peatland Development ….  :  Loss of traditional knowledge:  Loss of sources of natural materials for useful non- timber products & traditional medicines if peatland is cleared, leading to erosion of traditional knowledge of indigenous people.  :  Impact on tourism:  Depletion of PSF has reduced opportunities on ecotourism. IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

16 16 Is sustainability achieveable in tropical peatland utilisation? IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

17 17 Development Management Strategies Should Consider …  Larger peatland areas as mainstay for forestry & biodiversity conservation  Periphery of independent peatland basin for agricultural purposes  Baseline data & information needed  Least impact strategy for peatland development IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

18 18 Continuous assessment of harvested forest to determine future stocks and conduct silvicultural treatment where required IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol Sustainable Timber Production

19 19 Conservation in Totally Protected Areas (TPAs): 312,420 ha designated mainly in Sarawak IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

20 20 CONCLUSION  Understanding the physical, chemical, biological & ecological elements of tropical peatland resources & their responses to anthropogenic causes are important  Attention should focus on conserving of what is left  Sustainable development of peatland is necessary for the benefits of the present & future generations IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol

21 21 IPS Meeting, February 2009, Schiphol


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