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Story Publication logo March 21, 2019

Restoring Indonesia's Peatlands—One Pasta at a Time

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Smog and smoke over Borneo and Indonesia, 1997. Image courtesy of NASA.
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In 1996, Indonesia began the Mega Rice Project, plunging into one of the greatest environmental...

Sumatra farmer Abdul Manan makes pasta from the pith of sago palm trees. Unlike oil palm, which can only grown on dry land, the indigenous sago is water-tolerant. Indonesia wants farmers to plant more swamp trees, avoiding the need to drain its coastal wetlands. Image by Daniel Grossman. Indonesia, 2019.
Sumatra farmer Abdul Manan makes pasta from the pith of sago palm trees. Unlike oil palm, which can only grown on dry land, the indigenous sago is water-tolerant. Indonesia wants farmers to plant more swamp trees, avoiding the need to drain its coastal wetlands. Image by Daniel Grossman. Indonesia, 2019.

One-size-fits-all agriculture has robbed Indonesia's peatlands of its moisture. Now, the country is working to restore these historic swamps by embracing their boggy nature—and enjoying the pasta.

Support for this reporting was made possible by the Rainforest Journalism Fund, in association with the Pulitzer Center.

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