Our research project employs Participatory Action Research (PAR). PAR is a scientific method to understand a phenomenon and simultaneously transform the behaviour of related actors. PAR is a means for carrying out social transformation in a participatory manner (Selener 1997; Purnomo et al. 2016). Despite being more complex and often more time consuming than conventional research, PAR encourages actors to think beyond themselves and their affiliated organizations to contribute to larger development cycles (Sayer and Campbell 2004; Bacon et al. 2005). It trains critical system thinking by engaging actors to redefine problems and then collaboratively find, co-create and implement viable solutions (Eelderink et al. 2020). Our PAR process is outlined in the figure below.
The Phase 2 of PAR focuses on Siak District in Riau Province. Siak contains the largest peatland area on Sumatra, and around 57% of the total district area is covered with peatlands. Around 21% of these peatlands have peat depths of 3–12 m. Our action arenas are located in Kayu Ara Permai and Penyengat villages in Sungai Apit Subdistrict, which has the highest peat coverage at 97%. Currently, we have six action arenas on public- and private/community-owned land.