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Country delegates request CBD for peatland conservation


No less than 12 countries of the global intergovernmental Convention on Biodiversity (CBD SBSTTA) have yesterday made their recommendations to the Executive Secretary with regard to safeguarding the world’s remaining peatswamp forests. They urged the Executive Secretary to recognize the importance of peatlands, specifically tropical peatlands, in the global carbon cycle and the potential of peatland conservation and sustainable use as a cost-effective tool for the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.

Such a high level of support on a particular topic is highly unusual and reflects the support for the urgent need to protect this type of habitat.

These recommendations now form part of the proposals for the integration of climate change activities within the programmes of work of the CBD, aimed to result in a resolution to be decided upon at COP 9 - the high level governmental Convention meeting in Bonn, May 2008. The countries that explicitly supported this recognition were Germany, Malaysia, Indonesia, Slovenia, Norway, The Netherlands, Thailand, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Senegal and the Czech Republic.

The statements were a response to agenda items 5.1 and 5.3 on the CBD SBSTTA agenda that raised peatlands as an important issue. Some delegations such as The Netherlands explicitly pleaded for mechanisms for conservation and sustainable use of tropical peatswamp forests. They invited Parties, donors and relevant international organisations to contribute financial and other resources to support this process. Indonesia which hosts some of the most vulnerable tropical peatlands which are currently rapidly degrading, asked for support of international partners to come together with Indonesia and others in the region to solve the issue.

Wetlands International highly welcomes these recommendations made by so many crucial delegations. Through many years of experience in our research work and field projects in peatlands all over the world, we experience an overall lack of protection of peatlands (also not addressed under the Kyoto Protocol) and a very rapid loss of these areas. 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. Peatlands are also disproportionally important for global biodiversity.

During a si de event Wetlands International yesterday urged the Convention on Biological Diversity for a resolution in order to rapidly agree on measures to protect and restore the world's peatlands in regard of their importance for climate, biodiversity and people. We urged CBD to take the lead on this issue and emphasized the key actions to be taken by CBD. These actions include that the CBD addresses the root causes of peatland degradation. These include unsustainable practices such as palm oil and pulp plantations on peatlands, deforestation through illegal logging, trade in unsustainable products from peatlands and perverse incentives for biofuels from peatlands.
It is encouraging that this issue and the possible solutions are now picked up by CBD as it is an important step to make governments all over the world decide about a better management of these crucial areas.

For more information:
Alex Kaat,
+31 (0)6 50601917
www.wetlands .org
Publication: PEAT-CO2
Major project: Central Kalimantan Peatland Project

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