Regenerating Sumatran Ecosystems by Managing Acid Sulfate Soils

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Environmental Earth Sciences International were engaged to provide technical advice, as well as input to the development of control and management systems for a 10,000 hectare agricultural plantation in Sumatra which was completely underlain by acid sulfate soils. Without careful management, disturbing acid sulfate soils can have serious downstream environmental, economic, engineering and health impacts, and can restrict development, construction and agriculture in affected areas.


EESI carried out site inspections to gain a solid understanding of the site. From these inspections, mitigation strategies and monitoring programs were developed to manage the potential effects of the acid sulfate soils on crop yields and the environment.

The site was developed by creating an external bund and installing a complex series of water gates and drains around 25 hectare plots to rapidly drain rainfall runoff and suppress water tables.

The EESI team designed the drains so that acid sulfate soil layers were not dug up or dewatered, or where excavation of acid sulfate soils was unavoidable, the material was reburied. This process ensured safe management of agricultural resources and protection of the surrounding environment.


As a means of ensuring the plantation is carefully monitored at all times, EESI provided training to local operators with ongoing refresher courses. The ongoing assessment component of works is undertaken by the estate agronomic staff.

Following the conclusion of the project, a significant improvement in water quality both on and offsite, as well as revegetation of previous acid scalds, has been observed. This improvement in managing any runoff from the acid sulfate soils significantly reduced the impact on local ecosystems.

Environmental Earth Sciences International has significant experience in developing site plans to effectively manage the potential risk associated with Acid Sulfate Soils. When removed from a site, acid sulfate soils are classified as waste and can have significant cost implications for disposal with the potential to considerably impact the financial outcome of a project.

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