Resource Details

Canal blocking strategies for hydrological restoration of degraded tropical peatlands in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia

Literature: Journal Articles

Ritzema, H., Limin, S., Kusin, K., Jauhiainen, J., and H. Wosten. 2014. Canal blocking strategies for hydrological restoration of degraded tropical peatlands in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Catena 114: 11-20

Contact Info

Henk Ritzema;


a. Wageningen University and Research Center, Wageningen, The Netherlands

b. CIMTROP, University of Palangka Raya, Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia

c. Dept. of Forest Ecology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland


Species Info

Combretocarpus rotundatus, Cratoxylum glaucum, Shorea balangeran, Melaleuca cajuputi


- In the 1990's, the Indonesian government constructed a series of canal systems in Central Kalimantan to drain shallow peatlands and allow cultivation of rice; however, successful cultivation failed and has resulted n severe degradation of the peatlands. 
- In an attempt to restore the peatlands, heavyweight dams of construction material (e.g., filled with sand) were constructed in the canals, but failed due to the low bearing capacity of the peat, the high cost of transporting the material, and seepage and high permeability of the peat.
- An alternative dam design that uses compacted peat encompassed by locally sourced poles and allows for vegetation growth on itself is explored in this study, with it's resultant effectiveness in (i) raising peatland water tables, (ii) restoring natural water flow towards the rivers rather than runoff through canals, and (iii) reducing canal flow velocity to reduce erosion assessed.
- The dams were found to be successful in permanently raising the water table, however water tables were found to still fall below 1 meter during the dry season.
- The low bearing capacity of the peatland as well as the high interception of natural flows of water from the peat dome to rivers by the canals resulted in damage to the dams during extreme rain events, thus it is important to consider orientation of the canal/dam relative to the topographic contours of the peat dome (and thus directionality of water flow off the dome).

Geographical Region

  • Insular Southeast Asia
  • Ecosystems

  • Peat Swamp
  • Country

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