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Tropical Peatland Rehabilitation

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By Dr Susan E. Page, University of Leicester, UK

By Dr Susan E. Page, University of Leicester, UK

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  • 1. DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHYChallenges and Potential Benefits of Rehabilitating Degraded Tropical Peat Swamp Forest Sue Page & Laura Graham DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 2. Tropical Peatlands : Natural Resource Functions Hydrology, Biodiversity, Livelihoods, CarbonTropical peat swamp forest (TPSF) provides: Hydrological regulation Biodiversity support Livelihoods for local communities Carbon storage DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 3. Tropical Peatlands : Natural Resource Functions Carbon Storage Tropical peatland area : Global ~ 439,000 km2 SE Asia ~ 248,000 km2 Tropical peatland C store : Global ~ 89 Gt SE Asia ~ 69 Gt Equivalent to: 3.5% global vegetation & soil C pool 15-19% global peatland C store DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHYPage et al. (2011) Global Change Biology
  • 4. Tropical peatlands:needs & priorities Extensive areas of “degraded” peat swamp forests in SE Asia : > 50,000 km2 ? Definition of “degraded” peat swamp : Logged-over forest Deforested / burnt / drained land Agricultural / plantation land ?? - peat is degrading, crop productivity may be low Drivers of ecosystem degradation: Logging (often uncontrolled) / deforestation Drainage Fire DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 5. Tropical Peatlands : SE Asia Peatland DegradationCurrent situation for TPSF in Sumatraand Kalimantan*:4% good condition37% degraded forest (logged)24% deforested and/or burnt32% agricultural use* Mietinnen and Liew (2010) Ambio Less degraded sites may recover in time Heavily degraded areas may never recover naturally DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 6. Problems :Degraded landscapes – fire & floodLoss of local livelihoods DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 7. Loss of carbon through peat Southeast Asian oxidation3 Peatlands: (~260 Mt C yr-1) Vulnerability Reduced carbon sequestration2 Release of carbon Carbon by fire4 (~190 Mt sequestration1 (~10 Mt C yr-1) Cyr-1) (19 – 21 Mt C yr-1) Vegetation carbon sink Reduced vegetation sink Pool: 69 Gt (& increasing?) Pool: < 69 Gt Natural overall carbon (& decreasing by 460 Mt C yr-1) sequestration Current situation overall carbon sourceNotes:1 based on area of 252,229 km2 and carbon accumulation rate of 80 g C m2 yr-1 (Neuzil, 1997; Page et al., 2004)2 based on deforestation of 121,000 km 2 of peat swamp forest (Hooijer, Page et al., 2010)3 based on likely mean annual drainage depth of 60 cm and a resulting annual soil CO emission of 81 t ha-1 (Jauhiainen et al., in prep.) 24 based on average fire-related C emissions over period 1997-2006 (Page et al., 2002; van der Werf et al., 2008) DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 8. Scale of ecosystem degradation: LOW vs. HIGHLevel of degradation : LOW DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 9. Level of degradation : MODERATE DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 10. Level of degradation : HIGH DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 11. Stages of post-fire secondary succession ‘Severe’ fires: 1997 & 2002 ‘Moderate’ fires: 1997 & 2002‘Moderate’ fire: 1997 DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 12. Restoration, rehabilitation, mitigation ? World Institutions & Indonesian Govt. now starting to recognise the scale of the problem – in particular the GHG emissions from degraded tropical peatlands Small-scale hydrological restoration & reforestation projects underway Pilot projects to implement improved water management in plantations Larger-scale REDD demonstration, CDM & VCS projects in planning & early implementation stages – will require huge investments e.g. in fire management Fire hotspots, 19-25 Sept 2009(http://firefly.geog.umd.edu/firemap) DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 13. Tropical Peatlands : SE Asia Peatland DegradationUnderstand the ecosystem! TPSF vegetation and peat are highly inter-dependent. Forest disturbance direct changes to forest structure & composition indirect changes through enhanced peat decomposition - peat subsidence and increased tree fall and mortality Forest disturbance and lowering of water table increased risk of wildfires and combustion of aboveground biomass and surface peat (e.g. 30 – 50 cm) Deforestation and drainage increased risk of dry season drought Land subsidence (peat decomposition & combustion) increased likelihood of wet season flooding DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 14. Key questions for restoration oftropical peatlands What is/are the restoration goals? What are the ecological and social constraints? What are the key ecosystem elements and functions to be restored? Will the restored ecosystem be sustainable? What are the financial constraints? What administrative and legislative instruments are available to promote restoration? DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 15. Key questions:What are the restoration goals? Peat swamp forest or something else? Land-use that meets local social/economic needs? Ecosystem functions - all, or emphasis on selected ones ? – e.g. reduced GHG emissions (short term) recommencement of peat formation (long term) Who decides? Top down ‘neo-colonialist’ approach Bottom up empowerment Two-way dialogue/consensus DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 16. Restoration goals ? DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 17. Restoration goals ? DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 18. Key questions:Ecological constraints Many and various! Different for every ecosystem but also for every site! Include: Loss of forest canopy & change in microclimate Loss of seed sources & seed dispersers Changes in soil physical & chemical properties Changes in ecosystem nutrient dynamics Impaired hydrology – increased risk of flooding and drought Increased risk of fire DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 19. Ecological constraints:Barriers to restoration Constraints will have different impacts depending on different rehabilitation end- points and restoration methods and goals DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 20. The ecology of peatland restoration DEGRADATION Changes to environmental conditions Alterations to environmental conditions after degradation lead to REGENERATION BARRIERS that must be overcome Human-assistance in creating RESTORATION METHODS can remove or find ways round these barriers. NATURAL REGENERATION e.g. seed death in harsh conditions e.g. repeat fires e.g. seedling transplants e.g. fire prevention DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 21. Key questions:Social constraints Also many and various! Include: Lack of understanding and support Lack of knowledge & ability to implement rehabilitation/restoration Conflicting stakeholder views Continued use of unsustainable land use practices – e.g. fire, logging – which threaten long-term restoration success Limited awareness of and belief in short- and long-term objectives and benefits of restoration (next generation……..) DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 22. Key questions:Social constraints DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 23. Identifying barriersand opportunities Ecological constraints Limit what it is possible to restore Social and financial constraints Limit what can actually be achieved Successful restoration may require: Shorter-term increase in social capital (e.g. developing self- sustaining community employment opportunities) Longer-term restoration of natural capital (ecosystem functions, biodiversity etc) DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 24. Identifying barriers and opportunities:Are the constraints present?Assumed ecological and social constraintsmay not be present; E.g. A recent study showed Invasive sedges ameliorated harsh degraded environmental conditions and supported young seedling survival and growth – don’t remove! A local community had: • Deep understanding of forestry, ecology and restoration techniques that could be facilitated and incorporated into a restoration action plan • A strong desire for and support of restoration activities Investigate the study-site before investing in costly rehabilitation methods DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 25. Conclusions Restoring natural + social capital The challenges are immense But so are the opportunities DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
  • 26. Challenge ! Opportunity ? Terima kasih - Thank you DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY

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