Wetlands and climate change emissions
An unprecedented large group of governments, companies, NGOs and indigenous peoples groups called for action to protect and restore the world’s forests. In a declaration launched at this week’s UN climate talks in New York, targets are set to stop deforestation, support sustainable alternatives and restore forests. This should lead to a cut in carbon emissions to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Wetlands International endorses the Forest Declaration to send a message to world leaders to support a climate agreement in Paris in 2016 and take forests and land use into account.
- INVITATION FOR 1 OCTOBER 2014 -
Currently, drained peatlands for agriculture and forestry are the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) in the Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use sector. Join over 120 colleagues working on peatlands and climate change mitigation from all over the world, and enrol now for the webinar 'Challenges and Solutions for Responsible Peatlands Management', organised by FAO, through the web form.
Thanks to an active and laborious fire-fighting operation the recent peat and forest fires in Tver Province were localised and the region was saved from events becoming as dramatic as in 2010 when dense smoke haze covered the city of Moscow for weeks. Still, the region’s economy and ecology again suffered severely from the fires, as well as the climate.
Wetlands International argues that restoration of degraded and abandoned peatlands, is one of the key solutions to avoid often reoccurring dry weather related fire events, and to reduce the release of huge amounts of peat-related carbon emissions.
Today, an international network of more than one hundred twenty organizations on five continents is unveiling a powerful new Global Paper Vision that will unite the myriad of voices currently challenging the paper industry to adopt more sustainable practices.
Brussels. European Union energy ministers decided not to account for the real greenhouse gas emissions caused by biofuels used for transport in the EU. In a political agreement reached today, ministers refused to reflect indirect land-use change (ILUC) in GHG accounting and subsidy schemes for biofuels.
Wetlands are vital storehouses of biodiversity and important bulwarks against the effects of climate change, while also providing livelihoods for millions of people, but they’re being lost at an increasing rate. Geographical Magazine's Mark Rowe reports.
By Bas Tinhout
In Southeast Asia about 25% of plantations are currently on peat and some companies have more than 75% of their plantations on these carbon rich soils. But an increasing number of palm oil and pulp wood producing giants are announcing their commitments to no deforestation and no peatland conversion. What are their real intentions for peatlands?
The Hague, The Netherlands - With the societal and environmental costs of wetland degradation already huge and growing fast, Wetlands International brought over 100 current and prospective partners and supporters together to explore opportunities for positive action to sustain and restore wetlands in a reception at the atmospheric De Glazen Zaal (Glass Room) in the Hague. The evening featured an interactive marketplace to showcase some of our current initiatives, plus distinguished speakers and interviews with current partners on how our work with different sectors is helping to protect and restore wetlands. In addition to celebrating World Wetlands Day, the event also featured the launch of Wetlands International’s new logo.
In the Malaysia Chronicle of 17 January 2014, Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) mentions that there is no credible scientific basis for companies to divest from palm oil plantations on peat soils. The article refers to the announcement of Wilmar about a month ago to undertake "no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation" in their palm oil trades. Wetlands International welcomes Wilmar’s decision and gives a brief recap in this article of the science base.
Ede/Bogor. Wetlands International applauds the Indonesian court ruling which fined palm oil company PT Kallista Alam 114 billion Rupiah (approximately 7 million Euros) for illegally burning peat swamp forests in Tripa/Aceh.
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.
By Pieter van Eijk and Alizia Kamani
This September Wetlands International officially joined PEDRR, a global alliance of UN agencies, NGOs and specialist institutes which plays a vital role in steering the policy and practice in disaster risk reduction (DRR). Through this alliance, Wetlands International can effectively influence and make recommendations to the Hyogo Framework for Action and the UNISDR, the UN office which coordinates global activities on reducing the risk of disasters.
Sumatra, Indonesia. The health and climate impacts of large peatland and forest fires in Sumatra provide yet another harrowing reminder of the unsustainability of palm oil and pulp wood plantations on peat.
By Vera Coelho
The round of applause at the end of the REDD+ negotiations in Bonn reflected the relief of the Parties at having concluded work on several difficult issues. But their efforts will not stop deforestation and forest degradation.
Opportunities for climate change mitigation through peatland rehabilitation and lessons learned for future agreements under the UNFCCC were discussed at a side event during the Bonn climate negotiations.
Wetlands International warmly welcomes the extension of Indonesia’s moratorium on new forest concessions signed on the 13th May by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The extension, however, does not address the shortcomings of the previous moratorium.
Wetlands International welcomes the European Parliament’s vote on rules for accounting for greenhouse gas emissions and removals resulting from agriculture and forestry. Emissions and removals from cropland and grazing land management will have to be accounted for, but accounting for wetland drainage and rewetting remains voluntary.
Geneva, Switzerland – A new report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), co-authored by Wetlands International, emphasises the enormous economic value of wetlands. TEEB For Water and Wetlands highlights the key role played by wetlands as natural infrastructure and the multitude of enormously productive services they provide around the world. The continued loss of wetlands illustrates the need for improved policy making and business decision making that accounts for their true value.
- By Vera Coelho -
The United Nations’ climate summit in Doha has come to an end after two weeks of heated and protracted negotiations. Amongst limited progress, the general trend has been to delay decisions and refer further discussions to next year.
- By Vera Coelho -
The first week of the Doha Climate Conference is over, and so is the SBSTA – the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice. After a relatively slow start, REDD+ negotiators really started feeling the time pressure, as the closure of the week drew nearer and several unresolved issues remained.
By Vera Coelho -
The first few days in Doha at the Climate Conference have been relatively quiet. After a full day of opening ceremonies, delegates sat down for real business on Tuesday and Wednesday. Discussions focused on organisation of work and future ways forward but now that the first half of the first week has passed, one can definitely feel a change in pace.
Ede, the Netherlands - Wetlands International welcomes the approval of the new carbon trading category “Wetlands Restoration and Conservation” (WRC) by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). The new category provides a strong incentive for private investment in conservation and restoration of carbon rich wetlands.
Edinburgh, October 5th 2012. Wetlands International supports the IUCN UK Peatland Programme’s request to the government of the United Kingdom to include Wetland Drainage and Rewetting in their national accounting of greenhouse gas emissions.
By Aprianto Masjhur
Peatlands have been recognised for their high carbon storage and their potential to emit a huge amount of carbon emissions once they are drained. Their annual carbon emissions of 2 billion tonnes are a paramount issue in the global effort to mitigate climate change. However, the perilous and far-reaching consequences from peat drainage activities are not limited to carbon loss only. Another key concern that so far has been given insufficient attention is the issue of ‘subsidence’.
New York - In September 2011 Wetlands International announced its Commitment to Action under the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which is ‘Securing Wetland Carbon Stores for Climate’. The aim of this global NGO is to achieve emission reductions in the order of at least 100 megatons by 2015 through the conservation and rehabilitation of carbon-rich wetlands. Now, one year later, they are well on the way to achieving their commitment.
By Maria Nuutinen, FAO
Why should we keep peatlands wet? If they have been drained, why should we bother to rewet them? The answer is that peatlands provide huge benefits that often go unrecognised. Presentations from China and Belarus in a side event co-organised by Wetlands International at the Ramsar Convention Conference of the Parties (COP11) gave excellent overviews of the benefits as well as challenges of peatland conservation and rewetting for climate change mitigation.
Bucharest, Romania - The 11th meeting of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands concluded last week in Bucharest with the adoption of 22 resolutions on issues addressing the wise use of wetlands in 162 signatory countries. Wetlands International welcomes several decisions including the recognition of the overuse of pesticides and growing impacts of foreign-based land investment on wetlands. While many of the resolutions provide needed guidance to address threats facing wetlands, resolutions needed to address cross-sectoral challenges such as climate change and energy remain weak.
11th meeting of the Ramsar Convention (COP11) 6-13 July 2012 in Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest, Romania - Wetlands International will press for adoption of resolutions at the Ramsar Conference of Parties that call upon countries to take action on some of the most pressing challenges facing wetlands, such as energy production and pesticide use in rice fields. As an International Organisation Partner (IOP) we will also urge for a climate change resolution that commits Contracting Parties to take up the newly available incentives to invest in the protection, restoration and sustainable use of their peatlands, as part of their strategies to address climate change.
Bogor, Indonesia - Wetlands International welcomes the decision by the Indonesian government to protect the Kallista Alam peat swamp forest area (1650Ha) in Tripa, Aceh. We also recognise the issue identified by Dr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto (head of Indonesia’s climate team) who mentioned that "The case of Kallista Alam in Aceh is the typical problem we are facing.” Wetlands International fears for the many similar cases in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Bonn, 17 May 2012 - Today, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the non-governmental organisation Wetlands International launch ‘The Organic Soils and Peatlands Climate Change Mitigation Initiative’. The Initiative has been established to increase awareness about how the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of peatlands can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, and to facilitate strategic actions that can lead to measurable progress in this area. The Initiative will be launched during the intersessional climate session of the United Nations in Bonn (13–25 May).
A firestorm is sweeping across Tripa’s protected peatswamp forests, endangering the last few hunderd Orangutans remaining in this threatened area. The fires seem a direct result from draining for illegal palm oil expansion into the area. Wetlands International is saddened by the devastation of this forest; the organisation has called for many years for a better conservation of the precious old growth forest.
Forest biodiversity – Towards a Green Economy
Wetlands International is co-hosting an international conference to promote sustainable management of Brunei’s peat forests and mangrove forests on 22-23 March at Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. The event is organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources of Brunei Darussalam through the Forestry Department and is organised in conjunction with this year’s World Forestry Day celebrations on 21 March 2012.
Durban, South Africa, 11 Dec-2011. The Durban Climate Summit has delivered an overall rather meager agreement. A positive outcome has though come forward to reduce emissions from peatlands, both in REDD+ from developing as under the Kyoto Protocol for developed countries. Wetlands International celebrates this result. Peatlands represent 6% of global emissions and until now, no incentive existed under the UNFCCC for reduce these.
By Susanna Tol, from the UN Climate Summit in Durban. For two weeks, I am at the climate summit in Durban, meeting governmental delegations from all over the world to get the emissions from wetland degradation addressed.
Durban, South Africa - Peatlands must be given much stronger attention at the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa, calls NGO Wetlands International. Peatlands are the world’s most concentrated and important reservoirs of terrestrial organic carbon and a fast growing source of emissions. They should become ‘no-go zones’.
New York - At the Global Clinton Initiative in New York, Jane Madgwick, CEO of Wetlands International has presented our commitment to work with communities on saving worldwide two million acres of carbon dense peatswamps.
Bonn, Germany - A team of Wetlands International is present at the UN Climate meeting in Bonn (SBSTA), advocating for wetland conservation in the light of climate change. There we participate in two Side Events and bring our points across in the subsequent Adaptation Fund Board meeting as well.
Friday, 20 May 2011. Today, a two year moratorium between Norway and Indonesia to freeze Indonesia’s forest and peatland clearing has been agreed. The moratorium blocks new concessions in Indonesia’s peatlands and remaining forests; but also leaves many exemptions.
Washington DC – Drainage and degradation of coastal wetlands emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide directly to the atmosphere and lead to decreased carbon sequestration, a new World Bank report has found.
Edinburgh, Scotland. Representatives of governments, civil society and research centres of learning gathered in Edinburgh to consider the growing evidence base regarding the role of wetlands in addressing climate change. The global NGO Wetlands International has made climate change a prominent element in its new strategy for the coming decade.
February 2, 2011. World Wetlands Day is this year celebrated with the theme “Forests for Water and Wetlands”. Wetlands International marks this day by launching its new initiatives to reverse the loss of the world’s wetland forests such as forested peatlands and mangroves.
An increasing part of Malaysia’s palm oil is produced at the account of huge areas of tropical peatswamp forests. Especially in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, expansion of oil palm plantations may lead to the complete loss of these vast, unique forests by the end of this decade. This is shown by new figures from Wetlands International and Sarvision.