A Project Grant Agreement to implement the “Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peatland Forests in Southeast Asia” project was recently signed by the ASEAN Secretariat and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) between Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN and Mr Lennart Båge, President of IFAD.
The four-year project received a grant of US$4.3 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and will mobilize an additional US$10.2 million in co-financing during the implementation phase.
The project consists of both national activities undertaken in participating countries with major peatland areas, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam and regional activities involving all ASEAN States to share best practices, technology and experience.
IFAD has been designated as the implementing agency for GEF while the ASEAN Secretariat will coordinate the execution of the project in ASEAN Member States.
The ASEAN Secretary General hopes that the project will help to address the major transboundary environmental problem – smoke haze pollution - facing the ASEAN region.
ASEAN has more than 30 million hectares of peatlands comprising 60% of global tropical peatland resource which are primarily water-logged areas containing centuries-old decayed vegetative matter up to several metres deep.
Because of environmental degradation, these peatlands became the primary source of fires and smoke haze that affects the region regularly.
They are also a major source of greenhouse gases contributing to global warming.
ASEAN, through the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution adopted in 2002, is undertaking a concerted effort to address forest and land fires in fire prone areas such as the peatlands.
ASEANsec, "ASEAN Secretariat and IFAD Ink Deal to Promote Sustainable Development of Peatlands and Address Transboundary Smoke Haze Pollution
ASEAN Secretariat" dated 31 March 2009 in the ASEANsec website [downloaded on 2 April 2009], available at http://www.aseansec.org/Bulletin-Mar-09.htm#Article-17
Rasidah, HAB, "Action plan to foster policy changes to aid conservation of peatland" dated 30 October 2008 in the Brunei Times website [downloaded on 2 April 2009], available at http://www.bt.com.bn/en/home_news/2008/10/30/action_plan_to_foster_policy_changes_to_aid_conservation_of_peatland