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Balancing food security, livelihoods & climate


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Presented by Prof. Susan Page, Professor of Physical Geography, University of Leicester, United Kingdom at GLF Digital Conference Bonn, 3 Jun 2020

Published in: Environment
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Balancing food security, livelihoods & climate

  1. 1. INTERNATIONAL TROPICAL PEATLANDS CENTER Professor Susan Page, University of Leicester, UK
  2. 2. InternationalTropical PeatlandsCenter (ITPC) Balancing food security, livelihoods & climate Environmental challenges of agriculture on tropical peatland? High greenhouse gas emissions Need for effective year-round water management (problematic on a small scale; challenging during dry season/drought) Inherently low soil fertility & acidity, requires fertilizers & lime: costs may be limiting Widespread use of fire to burn crop residues + peat to produce ash fertiliser and clear scrub  increased risk of ‘wild’fire Risk of exposure of underlying infertile or toxic (acid sulphate) substrates Loss of peat  land subsidence and increased risk of flooding
  3. 3. InternationalTropical PeatlandsCenter (ITPC) Balancing food security, livelihoods & climate Responsible peatland management Ensure - high conservation value peatlands are identified & conserved - degraded / irreversibly changed peatlands are rehabilitated to restore as many ecological and landscape functions as possible. - ‘utilised’ peatlands are managed responsibly Responsible management of ‘utilised’ peatlands? - high water table is key + reduced nutrient inputs + reduced soil disturbance + increased shading (lower soil temperature) Relationship between mean peat subsidence and mean water table depth for tropical & high-latitude peatlands Source: Evans…Page et al. 2018
  4. 4. InternationalTropical PeatlandsCenter (ITPC) Balancing food security, livelihoods & climate Challenges for higher water tables on agricultural peatlands? Water supply during dry periods Dryland crops poorly adapted to high(er) water table conditions ‘Adapted’, high water table crops not (yet) economically viable – need market development and/or subsidies for reduced carbon emissions? Reduced nutrient supply (e.g. P, K) as a result of reduced peat decomposition – need for increased inputs of fertilisers? GHG emissions implications? Increased risk of pathogens? Danger of raising expectations - what can realistically be achieved in peopled landscapes? Need for alternative livelihood strategies (agroforestry, forest restoration, aquaculture?)
  5. 5. InternationalTropical PeatlandsCenter (ITPC) Balancing food security, livelihoods & climate If challenges can be met, what are the potential benefits? Meeting the Paris Agreement Substantial cuts in GHG emissions needed by 2050. In 2000, global peatland biome shifted from net sink to net source of soil-derived GHG emissions. Without rehabilitation measures (re-wetting, restoration) drained peatlands may absorb 10-40% of emission budget for keeping global warming below +1.5-2.0 deg C. Opportunity to bring drained peatlands back to net GHG neutrality…. Extend the lifetime of peatland land uses, maintain livelihood security, reduce emissions Source: Leifeld, Wüst-Galley & Page 2019
  6. 6. The Center is a South-South cooperation Coordinating partners