The Muslim clerics preaching for Indonesia’s peat

Indonesia is home to vast peatlands that have been widely degraded to grow crops, such as oil palm. Can ‘green Islam’ help to restore the country’s peat to its former glory?

Mustangin had been given training as part of an initiative from the country’s highest Islamic authority, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI). Working with Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) and the Center of Islamic Studies in National University (UNAS) since 2018, they have trained hundreds of local clerics to promote peatland restoration in communities in Sumatra and Kalimantan, home to majority Muslim populations.

“Wherever we travel to villages in rural areas, we would find that religious figures play a crucial role in social life,” says Fachruddin Mangunjaya, senior conservationist at UNAS. The hope was that environmental fatwas issued by the MUI, and promoted by local clerics and mosque activists, would be an effective way to encourage peatland restoration.