Green Pulse Podcast: Making peat forests pay for their own conservation

Mr Dharsano Hartano, chief executive of PT Rimba Makmur Utama, founded and manages the Katingan Mentaya Project in Central Kalimantan
Mr Dharsano Hartano, chief executive of PT Rimba Makmur Utama, founded and manages the Katingan Mentaya Project in Central KalimantanST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

Green Pulse Ep 27: Making peat forests pay for their own conservation 

18:05 mins

Synopsis: Green Pulse is an environmental podcast series at The Straits Times which analyses the beat of the changing environment, from biodiversity conservation to climate change. 

The dry season in South-east Asia is just around the corner, bringing with it the prospect of haze. Fires in Indonesia can be started by accident, or deliberately to clear land. And because they take place on carbon-rich peatlands - naturally water-logged ecosystems that are flammable when drained for agriculture - the fires can burn underground and for days on end, causing them to spiral out of control.

But in the heart of Borneo, a businessman has a novel idea for how to make peat forests pay for their own conservation. The Katingan Mentaya project in Central Kalimantan is a preserved peat forest more than twice the size of Singapore. Healthy peatlands have plenty of carbon locked in their depths - and that is essentially what the Katingan Mentaya project in Central Kalimantan hopes to "sell" as carbon credits.  

Active conservation and restoration efforts, such as the replanting of trees in degraded areas, have allowed the land to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it underground, equivalent to taking two million cars off the road each year.

The 7.5 million carbon credits that the Katingan Mentaya project produces each year are sold to businesses. Each unit purchased prevents a tonne of carbon dioxide from entering the earth's atmosphere.

Tune in to this episode for more on the ‘black gold’ in the heart of Borneo, as we chat with Mr Dharsono Hartono, the co-founder of the Katingan Mentaya project. 

Produced by: Audrey Tan (audreyt@sph.com.sg) & David Fogarty (dfogarty@sph.com.sg) & Ernest Luis

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Edited by: Adam Azlee

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