Solutions – Moving ahead The overriding solution to ensuring the conservation of peatlands is relatively simple: keep them wet. Or, if they have been drained, rewet them.

In view of the threats to peatlands and their great importance in delivering multiple benefits and ecosystem services there is an urgent need for global leadership that ensures their restoration, protection, ongoing conservation and sustainable use. Saving our global peatlands is ambitious, but achievable. Our aspiration must be to: • Conserve remaining undamaged peatlands to keep carbon locked in the ground and to provide vital habitat for endangered species while providing essential services and multiple benefits to people. Peat in these systems will continue to accumulate and sequester carbon from the atmosphere, assisting in the mitigation of climate change. • Prevent the further release of carbon emissions from eroding and decomposing peat, and therefore exacerbating climate change. Do this by working toward stopping damaging practices involving drainage or excavation of peatlands and by taking action to rewet and restore degraded peatlands. • Find an economic incentive for re-wetting. An example is by developing business cases for peatland water and climate regulation services and/or looking at livelihood options that use alternative crops (agricultural, trees and other biomass) that can cope with naturally high water levels (paludiculture) where possible to provide direct economic returns. By maintaining peatlands in their natural state, or rewetting drained peatlands, carbon remains in the ground, providing an important carbon store. Peatlands do not need to be drained to be productive. Developing management techniques and looking at sustainable uses such as ecotourism is essential and will help to maintain the peatlands in a wet condition. For example, about 400 species have been identified for Indonesian peatlands that have an economic potential. These include sago for the production of starches, purun grass for basketry, tengkawang which produces edible oil, jelutung which produces natural rubber and rattan for basketry and furniture (Giesen, 2013). Rewetting Rewetting peatlands is an essential step in their restoration. Peatlands rely on waterlogged conditions for their survival. This prevents the decomposition of plant material and leads to the formation of peat and the carbon assimilated in the lifetime of the plant being stored in the soil.

to its oxidation and the preserved plant material is lost in the form of carbon dioxide (Lindsay et al., 2014). Rewetting peatlands halts this process and therefore the release of carbon dioxide. Depending on the restoration activities and external conditions, the peatland may also once again start to accumulate peat over time. Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is not the only gain. In the case of Russia – for example, the Russian-German cooperation project ‘Restoring Peatlands in Russia’ – for fire prevention and climate change mitigation’ plans to rewet 700 km 2 of drained peatlands in the hope of also reducing their vulnerability to fires, following severe peat fires in 2002 and 2010 (Sirin et al., 2017).

When these wet conditions are removed or altered, the peat is exposed to oxygen which reacts with the carbon and leads


Made with FlippingBook - Online Brochure Maker