Keynote by Faizal Parish


Faizal Parish

Faizal Parish has been the Director of the Global Environment Centre, a Malaysian non-profit organization working throughout East and Southeast Asia on forest and peatland management, biodiversity, water resources and climate change since 1998. He is originally from the UK but is currently a Malaysian Permanent Resident and has been living in Malaysia since 1983. He is a wetland ecologist with more than 30 years’ experience in assessment and management of peat swamp forests, mangroves and river systems. He has worked with the ASEAN Secretariat since 2000 to establish the ASEAN Peatland Management Initiative and ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy 2006-2020 (APMS) and the ASEAN Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems 2014-2020 (APSMPE) – all key ASEAN initiatives to conserve peatland biodiversity and ecosystems. Faizal Parish has been actively working on peatland and biodiversity conservation in South East Asia since 1983, leading assessments of wetland biodiversity in many ASEAN Member States. He coordinated a global assessment on peatlands biodiversity and climate change in association with CBD from 2003-2008, andworked on restoration and management of peat swamp forests for more than 25 years . He was the Co-chair of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Peatland Working Group (2009-2012) and developed the RSPO Manual on Best Management Practice for management and rehabilitation of natural vegetation associated with oil palm cultivation on peat. He is a member of the International Mire Conservation Group for more than 10 years.


Climate-smart peatland use to improve livelihoods
Globally large areas of peatland have been targeted for conversion to agriculture and intensive forestry activities which have been one of the main drivers for peatland degradation. Peat extraction for energy and horticulture is another significant but smaller scale use. In Southeast Asia, there used to be nearly 25 million ha of peatland which was naturally vegetated with diverse peat swamp forest with more than 250 species of trees many of which have significant socio-economic value. More than 70% of this peatland has been heavily exploited and degraded and large areas converted to monoculture plantations of Oil Palm and Acacia. Many areas have been cleared, drained and burnt but subsequently abandoned due to inappropriate land development approaches. Some 10-15 million ha of degraded peatland is found in the region with more than 4 million ha burnt repeatedly in recent years - constituting one of the most important sources of GHG emission globally. The rewetting and rehabilitation of these peatlands provides a major opportunity for expansion of paludiculture in the region. There are more than 50 species of tree that are potentially suitable to be cultivated in re-wetted peatlands - but large scale cultivation is still at a relatively early stage. The presentation will highlight initial progress and future opportunities and challenges for paludiculture in the region.

Slides from the keynote by Faizal Parish (pdf | slides)