Peatland Degradation

The United Nations recently released a report on the peatland systems and the danger of carbon emission due to their degradation.

Peatlands

Peatland systems are formed when partially degraded plant material accumulate in water-logged conditions over thousands of years. Peatlands constitute 3% of the earth’s surface but store about 30% of the soil carbon in the world. It is one of the most effective carbon sinks in the world.

Distribution

Peatland systems occur in different climate zones: from mangroves of tropical climate to moss dominated peatlands in Arctic regions. 40% of tropical peatlands are in Indonesia. The report noted that nearly a quarter of the peatlands in Central and South Asia, Europe, East Africa, Amazon and South America is already degraded.

Benefits of Peatlands

Some of the benefits of peatlands are:

  • Climate mitigation: they are an important component of earth’s carbon sink system.
  • Biodiversity preservation.
  • Archaeologically important: they preserve seeds, pollen and even human remains due to their acidic conditions.
  • Supports livelihood: in form of pastoralism.
  • They bear fruits, berries and mushrooms of commercial importance.
  • They have potential for fishing industry.
  • Vegetation in peatlands contain fibres that can be used for construction activities and handicraft industries.
  • Plaudiculture/ wet agriculture can be practiced in rewetted peatlands.
  • Recreational grounds.

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