Extract from “The Fiery Peats of Haze in Southeast Asia”

However, in reality, there are many factors working against the preservation of peatlands. Arable land in the region is getting increasingly limited, so peatlands are prized alternatives. Peatlands are often rich with valuable timber, which when sold, can serve as a lucrative startup fund for developers.

The wet peatlands are usually devoid of native villagers, hence developers can avoid conflict with communities over land use. Also, since these peatlands are usually situated far away from administrative centres, developers can carry out their activities away from any prying eyes.

Because of these factors, developers often target peatland for agricultural development. And in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia where corruption is rife and permission is often just a matter of greasing the right palm, approval is easily obtained, despite policies to the contrary.

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