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CBD-meeting is major opportunity to address CO2 emissions from peatlands


At this moment, the global governmental Convention on Biodiversity (CBD - SBSTTA) holds their meeting in Paris. The protection and restoration of peatlands in order to conserve their carbon stocks is an important item on the agenda. Peatlands all over the world store enormous amounts of carbon. Their degradation is causing CO2 emissions equivalent to 8% of all global fossil fuel emissions. These huge emissions are not addressed under the Kyoto Protocol at all. There is now a major opportunity for the CBD to take leadership over this issue.

At this moment, government representatives of almost all countries gather in Paris to prepare the Convention on Biodiversity meeting in Bonn next year in a technical meeting (CBD-SBSTTA). This meeting in Paris is crucial as it in fact decides about the agenda and issues for resolutions for COP 9 – the high level governmental Convention meeting in Bonn, May 2008. Peatlands are raised under both agenda item 5.1 and 5.3 on the CBD SBSTTA agenda . This is a promising start. These agenda items discuss the need to take note of and take appropriate action regarding peat land’s values and importance for climate and biodiversity, and the huge impacts of their rapid degradation. 

Wetlands In ternational highly welcomes these CBD SBSTTA agenda items. It is a great first step to make governments all over the world decides about a better management of these crucial areas. 

Our recent research project (PEAT-CO2) implemented with WL/Delft Hydraulics, shows that peatland loss and degradation in South-east Asia result in considerable carbon dioxide emissions. Logging of the tropical peatland forests, often followed by drainage for palm oil and pulp wood plantations is rapidly destroying these wetlands. These degraded peatlands cover slightly over 0.1% of the global land surface, but emit at least 8% of annual global CO2 emissions. Peatlands are also disproportionally important for global biodiversity, harbouring for instance the largest remaining populations of orang utan, and provide important refuge areas for many other endangered species. T hey hold some of the highest freshwater biodiversity in the world. These areas form a key part of the resource basis of many societies and particularly the rural poor in many developing countries. 

Wetlands International urges the Convention on Biological Diversity to rapidly agree on measures to protect and restore the world's peatlands in regard of their importance for climate, biodiversity and people.
It is encouraging that this issue and the possible solutions are now picked up by CBD, and we hope this trend will continue in the COP 9 in Bonn, 2008. We call for a resolution that will encourage world wide cooperation for the protection and restoration of peatlands.

Today Wetlands International will host a side event at the SBSTTA of CBD in Paris. In this side event we will dis cuss the key issues and vital opportunities of tropical peatlands in South-east Asia and climate change. We will emphasize the key actions to be taken by CBD regarding this urgent issue.

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