Central Kalimantan is an ecologically and socially fragile area, where forest fires and agricultural water management systems are changing the watersheds and local livelihoods. The poverty rate is exceptionally high, especially in the former Mega Rice Project (MRP) area, where 1.4 million hectares of forest were felled and canals dug to drain peatlands for agriculture. The study focuses on this area where local livelihoods are in flux due to state land investments and commercial agriculture. In the recent decades environmental rehabilitation projects have entered the area bearing effect on how local livelihoods and hydro-social relations are formed within the peatland landscape. As it is, the loggings, MRP and forest fires have had serious effects on peatland hydrological regimes and the vulnerability of local residents whose livelihoods depend on rubber and fruit gardens. The research focus is in vulnerabilities and massive forest-fires and the remaking of local lives and livelihoods within shifting waterscapes in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
The project wishes to provide new insights into the ways climate change, water governance and resource extraction transform human-water and human-fire relations and intertwine with risks and vulnerabilities in environmentally and socially fragile Central Kalimantan landscapes.
These objectives require that careful attention be paid to multi-scale processes of water and land use, access to resources and resource governance, and hydrological assessments, combined with careful analyses of institutional efforts to govern water- and fire-related risks and vulnerabilities.