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Sierra: The Indonesian Peat Prize

February 2, 2017

Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club, recently showcased our work on the Indonesian Peat Prize. While peatlands make up roughly 3% of the earth’s surface, they store more than twice as much carbon as all of the world’s forests combined.

“The maps that have been made are a best effort to map where peat is,” says Dr. David Schimel, senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, “but they’re not very accurate, and they’re not very precise.” That’s because Indonesia’s peatlands are difficult to map.

“Most large-scale mapping techniques today rely on some sort of aerial photography or satellite remote sensing, or a combination of the two. But those techniques can’t see through [Indonesia’s] dense forest canopies,” says Schimel. “In areas where the forest is still relatively intact and pristine, there’s just intrinsically going to be less information. And so in the areas that you most want to protect, you have the least information.”

And so Indonesia’s Geospatial Information Agency—in partnership with the Packard Foundation, World Resources Institute–Indonesia, and the consulting firm Context Partners—launched the Indonesian Peat Prize. Launched on last year’s World Wetlands Day, the prize will award $1 million to the team that comes up with the most accurate and affordable technology to map Indonesian peatlands.

Read more at Sierra

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