Wetlands International

Peatlands – guidance for climate change mitigation by conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Wetlands International

Peatlands provide many important ecosystem services, including water regulation, biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration and storage. Because of the enormous size of the peat carbon pool, its high sensitivity for disturbance, the large emissions from a small land area (which continue long after conversion), and the virtual irreversibility of peat carbon losses, any further degradation of the peatland resource should be prevented. Peatland conservation, restoration and better management are low-hanging fruits for climate change mitigation and climate-smart agriculture (CSA).

This report informs on management and finance options to achieve emissions reductions and enhance other vital ecosystem services from peatlands. A decision support tree guides through opportunities for both cultivated and uncultivated peatlands. Methodologies and data available for quantifying GHG emissions from peatlands and organic soils are summarized and practical solutions are given concerning measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) and accounting. Country-specific case studies illustrate the problems, solutions and opportunities of peatland management. This report is a good handbook for policy makers, technical audiences and others interested in peatlands.

10 elements of strategic action:

  1. Identify occurrence and status (pristine, drained, abandoned, under productive use) of all peatland worldwide.
  2. Improve assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands. Improve methodologies for measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV).
  3. Conserve all reasonably intact peat swamps.
  4. Prevent further degradation of already degraded peatlands including:
    1. no further intensification of artificial drainage in already drained areas;
    2. installation of hazard monitoring and mitigation schemes to avoid and restrain uncontrolled fires and soil erosion;
    3. no further expansion of agricultural practices that require drainage (swap drained land use on peat, e.g. oil palm and pulpwood plantations, to mineral soils and apply paludiculture); and
    4. no further uncontrolled selective nor illegal logging.
  5. Restore degraded peatlands by rewetting, reforestation (in the tropics) and subsequent conservation and/or paludiculture. Restoration of peatlands reduces emissions, improves water regulation, benefits biodiversity and opens other income options.
  6. Target financial resources to peatland conservation, restoration and better management.
  7. Stimulate and apply existing and developing climate financing mechanisms on the compliance market (Kyoto Protocol, REDD+, NAMA's), the voluntary market (private sector investment in peatland rehabilitation) and from other sources.
  8. Support local communities at the earliest stage and stimulate community development to overcome their opportunity costs and dependence on unsustainable peatland use.
  9. Ensure that GHG criteria are integrated in credible certification and subsidy schemes for products that are derived from drained peatlands, including biofuels, palm oil, pulp wood, and other products from agriculture, horticulture and forestry. Each country that imports such products should review domestic policies for this.
  10. Share experiences and expertise on peatland conservation, restoration and better management among countries rich in peatlands and organic soils - especially with those in need of capacity building.

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