Indonesia - Siti Maimunah deftly steps out of a shallow canoe, stamps though the undergrowth and enters a cleared field, surveying the land. The two-hectare plot of dry and degraded peatland is not much to look at for now, but Siti is already looking ahead to the potential it could hold for renewable energy, land restoration and livelihoods in Central Kalimantan.
A forestry lecturer at Palangka Raya’s Muhammadiyah University, Siti has made regular visits to the remote plot for more than five months. Accompanied by her students and members of the local community in Buntoi village, she has been monitoring the progress of five types of bioenergy plants being tested on the trial plot.
Watch the extended video: Growing energy, restoring land
Previous crops of rubber and rice were destroyed in last year’s peatland fires that raged across several provinces in Indonesia, polluting the air and leaving behind degraded land. Unable to replant the old crops, the community in Buntoi looked for a new way forward.
On this visit, several of the test crops are found to be flourishing. Siti’s student, Kristianto Okoiiko, counts new leaves and measures growing trunks and branches. Tema, a worker from Buntoi, clears away dry grass, finding pineapples ripening between the rows of seedling crops.
“This trial plot aims to show the community that in their area, on this degraded peatland, there is great potential for growing many kinds of crops, including bioenergy crops,” Siti says.