Dayak Ngaju villagers have traditionally combined agroforest and swidden/fallow rotations on riverbanks and shallow peat.
Rich ethnobotanical knowledge, local soil quality indicators and ceremonies reflect long-term presence in this landscape.
The 2015 fire ban has effectively stopped local rice cultivation as technical alternatives are not attractive.
The agroforests, with durian and rubber as marketed products, continue to support livelihoods, but are not sufficient.
Temporary jobs on canal blocking for the peatland restoration agency have filled the gap, but are not expected to last.
If 150 years of continued use counts as a sustainability indicator, the river-bank agroforests in the peat landscapes of Central Kalimantan suggest solutions for current challenges. The 2015 fire season in Indonesian peatlands triggered a fire ban and peatland restoration response, prioritizing canal blocking and rewetting. However, sustainable livelihood options remain elusive. We report local ecological knowledge of soils and vegetation applied in land use choices in swiddens and agroforests in five Dayak Ngaju villages in Jabiren Raya and Kahayan Hilir subdistrict (Pulang Pisau, C. Kalimantan, Indonesia) on the banks of the Kahayan river and discuss impacts of fire-ban policies. Plots accessible from the river with no or shallow peat were traditionally preferred for swiddening, with various indicator plants and soil characteristics underpinning the choices. Without swiddening farmers depend on off-farm jobs and agroforests for income. More policy attention for non-peat riparian-zone agroforestry as part of peat landscape livelihood systems is warranted.