Wetlands and climate change emissions
By Bas Tinhout
In the tropics, peat swamp forests are often logged and converted to oil palm and pulp wood plantations. This results in adverse effects on the natural resource base of local communities and impacts the biodiversity, water regulation and carbon storage functions of peatlands. As an alternative, paludiculture is a sustainable form of agriculture which enables the productive use of rewetted peatlands. It will prevent the oxidation of the peat carbon, thus preventing the massive natural organic carbon store from turning into the greenhouse gas CO2.
Outsiders and newcomers to the United Nations climate negotiations are easily overwhelmed by the complexity of discussions around land use and forestry. But this might change in 2015.
A controversial report from a technical committee of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is under-estimating the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by palm oil grown on tropical peatlands by nearly 50%, according to NGOs.
Author: Marcel Silvius
Oil palm cultivation on peatlands is seen as an attractive option for many plantation developers in Southeast Asia. Not only is the land extensively available, the soils – despite the poor soil fertility – are somehow “working” for oil palm cultivation. Peatlands can therefore be perceived as lucrative and attractive for expansion of oil palm plantations.
So why then is oil palm on peat a path to disaster? We highlight two major impacts in this article. Firstly, peatland drainage for oil palm results in substantial carbon emissions. Secondly it results in flooding and land loss as a result of soil subsidence. We also offer some solutions.
Full article featured in sustainable Palm Oil: Conversation and Debate
Cambridge, UK. A new study maps out the amount of carbon stored by mangrove ecosystems in various parts of the world.