Peatland biodiversity

Tropical peatswamps

Tropical peatswamp forests are one of the most biodiverse regions on the world and classified as ‘biodiversity hotspots’, being home to many endemic and rare species of plants and animals. Conversion to agriculture monocultures is detrimental to this biome and threatens some of the last remaining habitats of iconic species and many other rare and threatened species. 

Habitats with high biodiversity values can be classified as High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF), In certification mechanisms such as FSC and in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), protection of HCVFs is required.

Endemism in peat swamp forest is much higher than in lowland Dipterocarp forests as it contains species like: the False Gharial, Storm’s stork, White-winged Wood Duck, Hairy-nosed Otter, Black Partridge, Proboscis monkey, and Flat-headed Cat which are all endangered species.

Species that due to their appealingness and endangered status are more known to the public include the Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran rhino, Sumatran elephant, Malayan tapir and Sumatran tiger.

Only a part of the habitat of most of these species lay within “protected” areas (e.g. the orangutan lives for 75 percent outside these areas). Studies on the orangutan revealed that high densities of individuals and nests are present in Acacia spp. plantation landscapes. It is unknown if these landscapes can provide long term population establishment.

Sources: Myers et al. 2000, Wibisono et al. 2010, IUCN Redlist 2012. 

Central Europe

Western European countries have lost over 90% of their natural peatlands, but especially in Central Europe many peatlands can still be saved. The peatlands in Baltic countries are rich in biodiversity, including nineteen rare or threatened bird species, twenty-seven vulnerable plants, six globally threatened mammals and 6 globally threatened amphibian and reptiles.

More information:

Marcel Silvius, Programme Head Climate-Smart Land Use