The Kampar peninsula on the Indonesian island of Sumatra is home to the largest tropical peat swamp forests in the world. The peatland contains massive amounts of organic carbon, equivalent to about a year’s worth of carbon dioxide emissions. The peatland area was put at risk when companies producing pulp and palm oil wanted to drain the Kampar peninsula for plantations. If drained, the peatland would release a total of 4.5 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, which is approximately half of the area’s carbon reserve.
In 2006, local environmental organisations started a campaign to protect the Kampar peninsula. The campaign played a significant role in saving the Kampar peat swamp forests and establishing a new national park, Zamrud. Finland supports the Siemenpuu Foundation, which was the campaign’s main source of funding.
Siemenpuu also financed the efforts of local organisations in the area to build dams, in collaboration with local people, to block the canals that were draining tropical peat swamp forests. Local village communities were eager to take part in this work because the dams turned the canals into a chain of productive fish ponds.
Photo: Mitra Insani, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta