Peatlands are wetland areas with a thick water-logged organic soil layer (peat) made up of dead and decaying plant material. Peatlands include moors, bogs, mires, peat swamp forests and permafrost tundra. They are home to many threatened species and globally store at least 550 Gigatonnes of carbon in their organic soils. This is twice the amount of carbon stored in the world’s forests. We are dedicated to saving the world’s peatlands.
Natural peatlands sequester carbon and thus help to mitigate climate change. Human actions, such as forest clearing and drainage for agriculture have turned many peat swamps into sources of greenhouse gas emissions. With two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, peatland loss has become a climate problem of global magnitude. Read more.
Another but generally overlooked issue is soil subsidence. Subsidence is the lowering of the soil surface as the result of compaction, shrinkage and loss of substance (carbon) due to oxidation and erosion. It is a well-known and inevitable phenomenon in all places in the world where peatlands have been drained. Lowland regions with extensive areas of drained peat soils stand to experience unprecedented flooding and land loss with severe socio-economic consequences. Read more.
To prevent such disaster, there is an urgent need to strengthen awareness, understanding and capacity to manage peatlands wisely. Through our research, field restoration work and advocacy, we promote the conservation, rehabilitation and wise use of peatlands.
- With local partners and communities, we restore drained peatlands in Russia, Indonesia (Kalimantan and Sumatera) and China by rewetting and revegetation.
- We advocate for incentives to conserve and restore peatlands in UN climate policies.
- We fight the underlying economic drivers of peatland loss, including conversion to pulp and oil palm plantations in Southeast Asia, peat mining in Europe and Argentina, and ploughing peatlands for agriculture in Europe.
- To reduce the expansion of palm oil in peatlands, we advocate on sector-wide criteria in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and on supportive policies on palm oil for biodiesel.
- We promote sustainable uses of peatlands such as paludicultures, which are beneficial to the climate, biodiversity and livelihoods.
- We advise governments on sustainable peatland management. Especially in Russia, China, Indonesia, Chile and Argentina.
Our work to save peatlands is financially supported by: