Conservation of peatlands needed to reduce greenhouse gas emission: Report

Bhubaneswar: In a fresh report, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) along with the Global Peatlands Initiative (GPI) has stated protecting and restoring peatlands can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 800 million metric tonnes per year.

The report titled ‘Economics of Peatlands Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Management’ calls for investments of up to USD 46 billion annually by 2050 to slash almost half the emissions caused by draining and burning peatlands.

Authored by Edward Barbier and Joanne Burgess of Colorado State University the report identifies that the main causes of peatland mismanagement are undervaluation and underinvestment. The report highlights the economic and environmental opportunities to boost public and private investments in peatlands protection.

The report mentions peatlands cover only 3% of the global land surface area, but store at least twice as much carbon that has been forecasted in the world. They are also a critical home to many endemic and threatened species.

Peatlands provide multiple ecological, economic and cultural benefits to communities around them, including sustaining water supplies and controlling pollution and sediments.

Dianna Kopansky, UNEP Global Peatlands Coordinator emphasized that “peatlands are an ecosystem at risk, with 15% of them being drained for grazing, agriculture, forestry, and mining. They contribute disproportionately to climate change, are essential for water security and are important places for nature and people. Another 5-10% of peatlands worldwide are degraded through vegetation removal or alteration. Infrastructure development is a further driver of peatland decline.

The report further found the principal cause for peatlands mismanagement is the undervaluation of their economic contributions. Commercial activities and policies that degrade and convert these high-carbon ecosystems often ignore or fail to take account of their benefits to society. In addition, global peatland conservation and restoration suffers from chronic underinvestment.

Investing in cost-effective peatland restoration would have massive economic benefits, reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in tropical peatlands.

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