Land-cover maps fire detection based on satellite imagery helped to evaluate the rates and spatial distribution of peatland deforestation in Southeast Asia from 1990 to 2010. The collected data are astonishing.
The proportion of forest cover in the peatlands of Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo decreased from 77% to 36%. After two decades of extensive deforestation (31000 km² ; 4.9% yr⁻¹) strongly associated with fire activity, Sumatra has been left with just 28% of its historical forested peatlands.
|Map source: http://www.aseanpeat.net/|
If peatland deforestation is allowed to continue at current rates, the Southeast Asian peat swamp forests will disappear by around 2030. The destruction of these forests will have serious consequences for the local communities:
- Scarsity of products and services which constitute the income of local communities
- And at global level, extinction of endemic species typical for the peat swamp forest of the region,
- Increase of carbon emissions.