The potential of peatlands and wetlands for climate action

Peatlands, which make up more than half of all wetlands worldwide, store a surprising one-third of the world’s soil carbon. Coastal blue carbon ecosystems, such as mangroves, seagrasses and salt marshes, are also major carbon reservoirs and protect shorelines from erosion.

Conserving or restoring these ecosystems can be a clear emissions-saving strategy for peatlands- rich countries – so why have so few nations included peatlands in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement?

COP25 – the 2019 United Nations global climate conference held in Madrid – was the first ‘blue COP’, where the potential role of oceans and blue carbon in climate action was acknowledged. As countries work to submit revised NDCs in 2020, CIFOR shared lessons on peatland restoration at several events, strengthening the investment case for the sustainable management of wetlands.

Considered a leader in peatlands research, Indonesia has committed to restore 2.4 million ha of degraded peatlands. It is part of the Global Peatlands Initiative and is the founding country of the International Tropical Peatlands Center, which includes the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo (Peru has also been invited to join).


Daniel Murdiyarso on the role of blue carbon and peatlands at the climate talks

Project info


Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP)



Funding partners

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FTA

Project partners

United States Forest Service

CIFOR focal point

Daniel Murdiyarso, Principal Scientist

Forests in a
time of crises


In 2019, the world witnessed some of our greatest challenges shift gears from urgent to emergency – from climate crisis to landscape degradation to the wildfires that devastated ecosystems across several continents. But it also saw momentum build with the announcement of the UN Decade of Ecological Restoration, a focus on nature-based solutions, and the recognition of local forest communities and Indigenous Peoples are the best land managers for forest conservation.

Another exciting development – the merger of CIFOR and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) – set the stage for more evidence and solutions that will improve people’s lives, help to conserve and restore the ecosystems that support people and nature, and respond to the global climate crisis.

Our scientists advanced critical knowledge on forest landscape restoration, wild foods and timber legality in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and peatland fires, biofuel, oil palm and wetland ‘blue carbon’ in Indonesia – with clear policy impacts in Southeast Asia from 10 years of social forestry research and engagement. Our ongoing Global Comparative Studies – GCS REDD+ and GCS Tenure – continued to bring science to policy makers across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Gender researchers looked deep into a myriad of topics, and we mourned the loss of principal scientist and Nairobi hub leader Esther Mwangi, whose legacy of achievements in gender and land rights won’t be soon forgotten. Finally the Global Landscapes Forum brought even more people together, both at events from Accra to Luxembourg as well as through exciting new digital innovations.