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Palm Oil Presentation for the EU

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Peat swamp forest and palm oil: …

Peat swamp forest and palm oil:
- Where and what are peatlands
- Peatland loss and carbon emissions
- Biofuels, palm oil and peatland loss
- What is / should be done

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  • This picture shows the location of a peat dome in the flood plain in between two lowland rivers. A substantial part of the peat dome is located above river water surface. These forms of peatlands are called bogs, they are oligotrophic (poor in nutrients) and rain water fed. The peat lies like a gigantic drop a water on the lowland plain, held together by the dead organic material and protected by a blanket of living forest that maintains a humid micro-climate and prevents direct solar impact.
  • Nepenthes grows in soils with N deficiencies. It compensates this by capturing insects in its cup-shaped leaves. Many indigenous peat swamp forest plants and trees can survive long-inundation. They can form floating islands, such as the Pandanus, or have aerial roots or pneumatophores, that help them to breath.
  • Drainage - aeration of the peat soil – aerobic decomposition of peat (carbon content of 60kg/m3) – sustained release of CO2 and subsidence of peat dome – flooding downstream Loss of carbon sink capacity, at least 40Mt/yr due to present loss of peatswamp forests
  • Melling’s study is often used to claim that peat swamp forests would emit more CO2 than palm oil plantations. The study did, however, not measure the ecosystem carbon balance but only the soil emissions without distinguishing between CO2 emissions from peat oxidation and CO2 emissions from root respiration. It is logical that the latter will significantly impact on results. If peat swamp forest would indeed lead to a net higher CO2 emission, peat could never have been formed. The proof is in the peat.
  • Transcript

    • 1.
      • PEAT SWAMP FORESTS
      • AND
      • PALM OIL
      by Marcel Silvius & Alex Kaat
    • 2. Content of this presentation
      • Where and what are peatlands
      • Peatland loss and carbon emissions
      • Biofuels, palm oil and peatland loss
      • What is / should be done
    • 3. About Wetlands International
      • Global NGO, 20 offices
      • Many years experience, peatland restoration
      • Research: global picture
      • In Europe, Russia, China, SE Asia, Africa, Americas
      • Network of scientists / organisations
      • Involved in international policies (CBD, UNFCCC, Ramsar)
    • 4. What are peatlands? Peatlands are wetlands where waterlogging delays decay, and dead plant materials form an organic soil: peat soil
    • 5. Peatlands As a result of different climatic and biogeographic conditions, a large diversity of peatland types exists
    • 6. Mineral Soil River River < 1m > 3 - 25m Peat swamp forest Organic matter Most of the tropical peatlands are located in the extensive lowland floodplains of South-east Asia
      • Wetlands where waterlogging delays decay, and dead plant materials form an organic soil: peat soil
      • Lowland tropical forest peat bogs are dome-shaped
      • Peat is accumulated above ground water levels
      What is a peat swamp forest? The peat bog is rain water fed
    • 7. Tropical peat swamp forest in South-east Asia
    • 8.
      • In natural un-drained conditions tropical peatland soils contain 85% to 95% water and are poor in nutrients
    • 9. Place in the water cycle
      • Globally 10% of all fresh water is in peat
      • Peatlands are the source areas of many rivers
    • 10. Peatlands and carbon
      • Globally peatlands store 450 Giga ton C
        • 75% of all carbon in the atmosphere
        • 90% of all carbon stored global plant biomass
        • twice the carbon stored in forests
      • Canada 155 Mton C
      • Russia 138 Mton C
      • Indonesia 54 Mton C
      Peatlands store large amounts of carbon Peatland degradation leads to CO 2 emissions which contribute to global warming
    • 11. Threatened carbon stores Peatlands store large amounts of carbon Peatland degradation leads to CO 2 emissions which contribute to global warming
      • Globally peatlands store 550 Giga ton (Gt) Carbon
      • Equivalent to 30% of terrestrial carbon
        • 75% of all carbon in the atmosphere
        • 90% of all carbon stored global plant biomass
        • twice the carbon stored in forests
      • Canada 155 Mton C
      • Russia 138 Mton C
      • Indonesia 54 Mton C
    • 12. December 2009, first global picture
    • 13. Peat emissions
      • Annual global emissions from peatlands 2 Gt CO 2
      • Drainage (1,3 Gt CO2),
      • Fire (>0,4 CO2) and mining
      • Drainage: emission figures widely agreed
      • Mining: No reliable data for many parts of the world
      • Top emissions:
      • - Indonesia 500 Mton CO2 drainage plus 400 Mton fires - EU 174 Mton CO2 - Russia 160 Mton CO2 - China 77 mton CO2 - USA 69 Mton CO2
    • 14.
      • Peatland loss
      • Deforestation
      • Drainage for plantations (palm oil)
      • Fires
    • 15. Peat swamp forest deforestation
      • Peatland deforestation:
      • since 2000: 1.5%/yr which is double the rate for non-peatlands
      • currently 45% deforested
      • Peat forest conservation
      • < 5% of total peatland area
    • 16. CO 2 emissions as a result of drainage
      • Drainage to 80 cm = emission of 70 ton CO 2 /ha/year
      • Current emissions SE Asian drained peats: 560 Mt CO2/yr
    • 17. CO 2 emissions from SE Asian peat fires
      • Between 1997 and 2006 there were over 60,000 fires in Borneo peat swamp areas in 3 out of 10 years (1997, 1998, 2002)
      • Most affected were deforested and drained peatlands
      Adapted from data provided by Siegert and Page
    • 18. CO 2 emissions from SE Asian peat fires
      • Average annual CO 2 emissions from peatland fires, assessed over a ten year period (between 1997 – 2006) is estimated between
        • a minimal average of 400 Mt CO2/y
    • 19. Background: why peatland drainage leads to CO2 emissions?
      • Intact peat:
      • water table near surface allows accumulation of organic matter (carbon sink)
      Δ L Clay / sand Peat dome Stream channel Stream channel
    • 20. Background: why does peatland drainage lead to CO2 emissions?
      • Drainage lowers water table and dries the peat
    • 21. Background: why does peatland drainage lead to CO2 emissions?
      • When the water table is lowered and the peat dries,
      • oxigen will react with the organic material and form Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions through:
        • decomposition (rotting)
        • fires
      CO 2 CO 2
    • 22. Background: why does peatland drainage lead to CO2 emissions?
      • The peat soil will subside as a result of loss of water, compaction and loss of matter (through CO 2 emission).
      • The subsidence will only stop when the peat is ‘rewetted’.
      • Without rewetting the peat will disappear
    • 23. Some facts and figures Peatlands in SE Asia: < 0,1 % of global land area 1000 million tonnes emitted annually Equivalent to 3 % of total global emissions A concentrated problem…
    • 24.
      • Peat and palm oil
    • 25. Palm oil prospects
      • Major interest to expand palm oil in response to the international biofuel market
      • Indonesia: 20 to 25% oil palm estates on peat
      • Malaysia: 13.5% oil palm estates on peat
      • Over 50% of newly planned palm oil is on peat
      • Impacts on surrounding landscape ignored
    • 26. Palm oil, a very attractive crop
    • 27. Biofuel targets: millions of ha oil palms
    • 28. Palm oil: rapid growth; mainly SE Asia
    • 29. Palm oil: rapid growth; mainly SE Asia
    • 30. CIFOR: Palm oil is a driver of deforestation
    • 31. Peatlands are attractive for palm oil
    • 32. Where peat is…
      • Sumatra: 7.2 mill ha
      • Kalimantan: 5.8 mill ha
      • Papua: 8 mill ha
      • Total: 21 mill ha
    • 33. Is palm oil
    • 34. Why peatlands are so attractive
    • 35. Emissions especially peatswamp forest
    • 36. Peat makes the difference
    • 37. Controversy about the emissions from peat?
    • 38. Indonesia: Little dispute about the drainage & emissions figures
    • 39. Malaysia: Campaigning for palm on peat
      • Malaysian Palm Oil Council: “A direct comparison of peat forest and oil palm plantations found slightly higher emissions from peat forests” (Corley 2007).
      • Possible causes for higher emissions for peat forests in Melling’s study:
        • Only soil emissions were measured, not the ecosystem carbon balance
        • More vegetation biomass will have higher respiration rates and thus more CO 2 release from the living root system .
        • Among other potential contributing factors is the fact that the peat swamp forest studied was degraded
      Source: Global Oils & Fats Business Magazine, Vol 4. Issue 2. 2007
    • 40.
      • Legislation, policies, guidelines
      • In addition, peat fires cause another 400 MtCO2/yr
    • 41. Are global policies reducing peatland loss?
      • Global:
      • REDD: protecting peatswamp forests or supporting plantations?
      • RSPO: no criteria for peat; still working on peat and GHG criteria
      • CDM: biodiesel from degraded lands
      • Answer: Not at this moment.
    • 42. Are national policies reducing peatland loss?
      • Malaysia:
        • dependent on the province
        • rapid conversion to palm oil in Sarawak
      • Indonesia:
        • palm oil on peat less than 3 meters deep
        • 25% may deviate from this rule Ref: Ministerial decree on Agriculture No.14/Permentan/PL.110/2/2009)
        • Recently strong government recommendations to save peatlands for their carbon
        • Ref: DNPI & BAPPENAS December 2009
      • Answer for now: No.
    • 43. What needs to be done for biofuels
      • Proper calculation of land use emissions (IPCC 2006 guidelines)
      • Indirect land use factor
      • Globally: Exclude peatlands for production of biofuels
    • 44. ‘Continuously forested areas’
      • “ ..namely land covering more than 1 ha. with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 30%, or trees able to reach those thresholds in situ.”
      • Political reason for this exclusion is biodiversity and carbon…
      • Plantations have little biodiversity value, far less carbon storage.
      • So:
      • Exclude conversion to plantations  seeded or planted tree crops on previous natural forest areas.
      • An (oil) palm is not a tree. A palm oil plantation should thus never be considered a forest.
    • 45. ‘Wetlands’ and the Directive
      • Directive: “Namely land that is covered with or saturated by water permanently or for a significant part of the year.”
      • For biofuel production, exclude areas:
      • that became drained after 2008, or
      • where the ecological character has changed.
      • Ecological character:
      • “ combination of the ecosystem components, processes and benefits/services that characterises the wetland at a given point in time” (Convention on Wetlands, Ramsar 1971)
    • 46. Conclusions
      • Palm oil plantations are rapidly expanding in Malaysia and Indonesia due to increasing global demands for vegetable oil. Part of this is caused by the expected opportunities in the biofuel market.
      • Current national legislation does not protect carbon rich ecosystems (forests, peatlands).
      • Many tropical peatlands are being reclaimed and drained for palm oil; annual expansion 150,000 – 200,000 ha per year in SE Asia
      • Whether in intact peatswamp forests of in logged areas, additional emissions caused by the plantations are significant, adding tens of tons of carbon dioxide per hectare per year.
      • Emissions from drained peatland areas continue for decades or even centuries (depending on peat depth) until the entire stock is gone.
      • Several studies are conducted on the impact of drainage of peatlands on greenhouse gas emissions. While average emission totals of the irregular and fluctuating peatland fires occurrences are under discussion, there is widespread consensus on the emissions from peat decomposition due to drainage.