Peatlands mitigate climate change

  • Wetlands International has proposed that reinstating drained wetlands is a cost-efficient, rapid and effective means of combating climate change.
  • Although peatlands cover only 3% of the world’s surface they are said to have tremendous potential for climate mitigation as they store twice as much carbon as the globe’s forests. When these peatlands are drained, they release CO2 into the atmosphere.
  • Degrading peatlands constitute only 0.3% of the world’s surface, but this small amount of land area is estimated to be responsible for almost 6% of anthropogenic emissions (those which are caused by humans).
  • Avoidance of further drainage, conservation of existing peatlands, and rewetting and restoration of degraded wetlands have been recommended by Wetlands International in order to mitigate climate change and help to close the emissions gap.

Implications and next steps: One of the key hurdles to overcome in order to protect and reinstate peatlands is increasing land use pressure such as using land for energy generation. It may prove difficult to weigh up the benefits of mitigating climate change by protecting these landscapes against other potential land uses.

Wetlands International:

About annaarathe

Research fellow, horizon scanning
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