How a change in peatland farming could reduce global carbon emissions

Reducing drainage depths in agricultural peatlands by 50% could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of over 1% of global anthropogenic emissions, suggests a paper in Nature this week.

Complete restoration of peatland remains the most sustainable option, but where it is not feasible to end drainage-based agriculture, partially raising the water table in peatlands could reduce emissions without halting their productivity.

Draining peatlands can provide fertile land for growing crops, because removing water triggers the release of nutrients through decomposition.

But crops grown on peat have some of the highest greenhouse gas emissions per crop calorie in the world. The equivalent of around 3% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gases are emitted from drained peatland. Continue reading

Scientists urge countries to protect their peatlands

Research on the world’s largest peatlands urges countries to protect these vulnerable wetland ecosystems as part of their climate strategies, and to learn from each other’s experiences to sustainably manage them.

Tropical peatlands – one of the main carbon sinks in the planet – are under threat from activities such as agriculture, infrastructures and mining.

A special issue of the Springer journal ‘Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change’ presents nine papers from Indonesia, the Congo basin and the Peruvian Amazon, offering new insights to help policy-makers balance development, climate and conservation goals. Continue reading