Organic soils and peatlands
Peatlands – guidance for climate change mitigation through conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use
This report is a handbook for policy-makers, technical audiences and others interested in peatlands. It is the second edition of the report, which was first published in May 2012. The new edition has additional information about grazing on peatlands, and includes updates on options for financing as well as measuring, reporting and verifying emissions and emission reductions.
A man paddles his boat through rewetted peatlands in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. (Wetlands International, Marcel Silvius)Peatlands store tremendous amounts of carbon. However, when they are drained and used – mainly for agriculture, grazing and forestry – peatlands become significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Peatlands drainage and peat fires are responsible for almost one-quarter of carbon emissions from the land use sector.
Organic soils and peatlands climate change mitigation initiative
FAO, the MICCA Programme and Wetlands International have launched the global 'Organic soils and peatlands climate change mitigation initiative'.
The Initiative is active at the UNFCCC climate change conferences. At UNFCCC’s COP 18 in Doha, Qatar, the Initiative has organized the side event 'Ecosystems-based mitigation – From incentives to practice'. The side event, which looks at opportunities and progress in reducing emissions from peatlands, will be held on Thursday 6 December 2012 at 20.15–21.45 hrs, in Side event room 2. The event is hosted by Wetlands International and FAO.
• Download the invitation to the side event.
At the FAO Knowledge Event on climate-smart approaches for agriculture, Marcel Silvius from Wetlands International and Marja-Liisa Tapio-Biström from FAO made a presentation on Peatlands and REDD+
• Download the Peatlands and REDD+ presentation .
The Initiative is an informal network of organizations and people committed to reducing emissions from peatlands and safeguarding the other vital ecosystem services peatlands provide. Institutions currently involved in the initiative include FAO, Wetlands International, Greifswald University, IUCN UK, Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Global Environment Centre (GEC), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Michael Succow Foundation and the University of Helsinki.
Listed below are the presentations made at the launch of the 'Organic soils and peatlands climate change mitigation initiative' in Bonn Germany in 2012.
Facts about organics soils and climate change
• Peatlands and organic soils cover only 3 percent of the land area but contain 30 percent of the soil carbon.
• Including emissions from peat fires, the CO2 emissions from drained peatlands globally amount to some 2 gigatonnes per year and currently represent almost 25 percent of the CO2 emissions of the entire land use, land use change and forestry sector.
• Only about 15 percent of peatlands are used and drained for agriculture, livestock rearing and forestry including bioenergy (oil palm) plantations. These drained peatlands, on 0.3 percent of the world’s land cover, emit, however, almost 6 percent of global CO2 emissions.
• Southeast Asia is by far the world‘s most important peatland hotspot, with half of the global peatland emissions originating from this region where rates of peat swamp deforestation and drainage are high.
• In Indonesia, where 95 percent of the peatlands are already degraded, peatlands are responsible for over 60 percent of the country’s total emissions.
• Western Indonesia (Kalimantan and Sumatra) will lose all of its peat swamp forests by 2030 if current annual deforestation rates of 3.4 percent are not reduced.
• After Indonesia, the European Union is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases from peatlands. In the 27 countries of the European Union, cropland on organic soil is responsible for 77 percent of the CO2 emissions from all cropland and grazing land on organic soils for 79 percent of the emissions from all grazing land.
• Damaged UK peatlands are already releasing almost 3.7 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year, the equivalent to the average emissions of around 660 000 UK households.
These figures are taken from Peatlands – guidance for climate change mitigation by conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use