Peatlands, Climate Change & Biodiversity


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This presentation displays the strong links between peatlands, climate change and biodiversity. Peatland degradation is a disaster for both the local and global climate as well as biodiversity.

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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.
  • 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
  • First click: Some relatively minor emissions are derived from peatlands in arctic and sub-arctic zones Second click: More substantial emissions are derived from peatlands in the temperate zones and tropical zones of the Americas Third click: The most substantial emissions, covering over 70% of global peat-based emissions are from SE Asia.
  • Water management should be optimised to ensure the highest possible water levels are maintained. Whereas optimised water levels may have some impact on palm oil productivity, it will benefit long-term sustainability of the plantation, decreasing risks of enhanced flooding through peat soil subsidence. A optimal balance needs to be found between short-term productivity and long-term sustainability.
  • Peatlands, Climate Change & Biodiversity

    1. 1. Peatlands & climate change Alex Kaat, Wetlands International [email_address]
    2. 2. Content of this presentation <ul><li>Peatlands: What & where </li></ul><ul><li>A climate / biodiversity disaster </li></ul><ul><li>This can be solved at low costs </li></ul><ul><li>What to do: Role for CBD </li></ul>
    3. 3. Short film
    4. 4. Mineral Soil River River Peat swamp forest Organic matter Peat: organic matter accumulated over thousands of years storing carbon in thick layers Peatlands are wetlands where waterlogging delays decay, and dead plant materials form an organic soil: peat soil What are peatlands? A peat bog is rain water fed
    5. 5. <ul><ul><li>… from the tundra … </li></ul></ul>Yakutia, RF
    6. 6. <ul><ul><li>… to the tropics and … </li></ul></ul>Borneo
    7. 7. <ul><ul><li>… from the mountains … </li></ul></ul>Kyrgystan
    8. 8. Archangelsk, RF <ul><ul><li>… to the sea … </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Finland
    10. 10. Values <ul><li>Poor for agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Rich biodiversity </li></ul><ul><li>Water storage (peat = 90% water!) </li></ul><ul><li>Carbon content! </li></ul>
    11. 11. <ul><li>Occur in 175 countries </li></ul><ul><li>4 million km 2 world wide (3 % of global land surface) </li></ul>Global peatland distribution
    12. 12. Logging, palm oil pulpwood SE Asia
    13. 13. Drainage -peatfires in Russia, 2010
    14. 14. Mining for fuel – horticulture
    15. 15. Drainage for agriculture, overgrazing
    16. 16. Changing climate?
    17. 17. Drainage leads to subsidence - CO2 emissions CO 2 CO 2 CO 2 CO 2 CO 2 Drained peatlands are also extra fire prone Clay / sand Peat dome Stream channel Stream channel
    18. 18. Impact of drainage of tropical peatlands <ul><li>Drainage to 1 meter = emission of 90 ton CO 2 /ha/yr </li></ul><ul><li>When drained, peatlands become increasingly vulnerable to fires </li></ul>Source: Wösten, Alterra
    19. 19. Threatened carbon stores <ul><li>Peatsoil 1400 Tonne / ha (rainforest 375 tonne C / ha) </li></ul><ul><li>Globally 550 Giga ton (Gt) C </li></ul><ul><li>30% of terrestrial carbon </li></ul><ul><li>75% of all carbon in the atmosphere </li></ul><ul><li>15% (or 50 million ha) is threatened and degrading </li></ul><ul><li>releasing 2 Gt CO 2 per annum </li></ul><ul><li>6% of global emissions </li></ul>
    20. 20. Magnitude of peat in climate issues
    21. 21. Hotspots of CO 2 emissions from drained peat Annual global peatland emissions 2 Giga ton CO2 Russia160 Mt EU 174 Mt 115 Mt Central Asia USA 72 Mt 1 Gt SE Asia
    22. 22. Rewetting: the solution Solutions: conservation and restoration
    23. 23. <ul><li>2003 2006 </li></ul>China Ruourgai
    24. 24. Re-greening degraded peatlands
    25. 25. Physical situation <ul><li>Peatlands: large carbon stock under threat </li></ul><ul><li>Different from forests: ongoing emissions </li></ul><ul><li>Easy / low cost to halt emissions </li></ul><ul><li>Many co- benefits (biodiversity, water storage!) </li></ul>
    26. 26. Global Political situation <ul><li>UN Policies (FCCC) </li></ul><ul><li>Emissions are not accounted in Annex 1 </li></ul><ul><li>No incentives (KP, REDD, CDM) </li></ul><ul><li>Positive change… </li></ul><ul><li>Wetland management in drafts for LULUCF (new activity) </li></ul><ul><li>IPCC: review methodology on peat </li></ul>
    27. 27. CBD: 5.6 Biodiversity and climate change <ul><li>Strong focus on forests only </li></ul><ul><li>Reference to REDD / REDD plus </li></ul><ul><li>Peat once mentioned in a long list of ecosystems. </li></ul>
    28. 28. Strategic plan <ul><li>Target 15 “ By 2020, ecosystem resillience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15% degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.” </li></ul><ul><li>Good target as ‘restoration of 15% is ambitious. </li></ul><ul><li>No clear target on emissions or conservation of stocks. </li></ul>
    29. 29. Make countries aware
    30. 30. Yes, there is peat in your country
    31. 31. Downloadable from Science base developed … <ul><li>Aim: No doubts among Parties on </li></ul><ul><li>Urgency of the issue </li></ul><ul><li>Option to address problem </li></ul>