Wetlands are crucial for fighting climate change. This relation is still quite unknown and not acknowledged yet by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); the UN organisation that presented today’s report.
Wetland destruction is fuelling climate change. More than 8% of all global CO2 emissions originate from the destroyed wetlands of just South-east Asia. In this region, huge area of peatlands are drained. The organic peat oxidises because of this, resulting enormous CO2 emissions. A recent scientific study reveals this clearly (see www.wetlands.org/peat-co2).
Wetlands are also the ecosystems that are able to function as carbon sinks. Forests can only store a limited amount of carbon. Many wetland types however are storing carbon as an ongoing process, in the form of peat. In this way, the amount of carbon comparable with 70 years of the current CO2 emissions is stored in wetlands.
Finally, wetlands can mitigate the extreme weather events that result from climate change. Just two examples: peatlands and other marshes can store huge amounts of fresh water after extreme rainfall. This prevents floods. The areas also slowly release freshwater during long dry periods. Coastal wetlands like coral reefs and mangroves strongly mitigate the impact of storms.
All these crucial links between wetland ecosystems and climate change are still hardly acknowledged. Wetlands International calls for more attention for this on Wetlands Day 2007.
Communication Manager Wetlands International
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