By Dedy Mahardika, researcher of Wahana Riset Indonesia.
It was our fourth week working as Wahana researchers at WRI Indonesia and we were incredibly nervous about our publication plan presentation. Why? Because the S&R director of WRI DC was going to be there to not only supervise our pub-plan, but to also be a judge. Yes, like a judge you see on American Idol or The Voice. However, instead of singing in a competition, we were presenting our plans for “Research Days”. But as hectic as it seemed, it was a breath of fresh air because we (the Wahana researchers from Stream 1) were going to the field for the very first time and I was thrilled to see what would happen. We were going to Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI), a region in South Sumatra, to hold a workshop with multiple stakeholders from governments, academia, NGOs, and the private sector.
We were relieved when we finally finished the pub-plan presentation, but there was still a lot of work that needed to be done. A day after our presentation, we went on our first field trip. It was quite strange for me because I’ve never been able to experience social field research as I had previously worked in a “wet” lab most of the time.
We arrived in OKI and met with our colleagues from the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), who had already finished their first day of the workshop. On the second day, we joined them in the discussion on the vision and mission related to peat restoration. It was very enlightening because as much as we have access to available data, there were still differences when we heard their concerns directly. A highlight from the workshop was personally conducting an interview on the lack of electricity in peatland areas. It might be a great topic for my research, as it is becoming our concern too.
Focus group discussion about Peatland restoration problems. Dedy Mahardika's doc.
Only two days had passed after our return when we were assigned to go on another field trip back to OKI. This time, we would be exploring real peatland areas (meaning an outdoor field trip!) I didn’t know what to expect, and I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep the night before my flight.
We arrived in OKI for the second time in one week, this time for a 10-day field trip. We were lucky enough to join the simulation stage with our colleagues from Wetlands International Indonesia, where we did a simulation on how to measure peat depth, land slope, and observe the peat surroundings. It was a shorter trip compared to the first time but again we learned something new that we can add to our research plan, especially regarding the re-vegetation (R1) phase.
Simulation of peat depth measurement. Dedy Mahardika's doc.
What were the differences between the two trips? I could compare the trips with my two favorite beverages, Macchiato and Americano. The first trip was a Macchiato: sweet, but you could not taste the coffee properly. We only heard the data verbally from the stakeholders but did not witness the real field conditions. Meanwhile, our second trip was like an Americano: bitter and you could taste the coffee clearly, as we could see the peatlands and their surroundings with our own eyes.
Which trip is best for my research? Those trips were like two sides of a coin, different but complementary. They both have value in different ways. My research will also combine those two aspects to obtain valid data. And what is next for me? There are still plenty of beverages other than Macchiatos and Americanos. Just like my research, I need to explore more to finish my publication.