Land-use change in southeast Asian peatlands and mangroves: Implications for the climate system

06 Dec 2010,

Tropical peatlands and mangroves are often highly productive, provide important ecosystem services, and harbor a unique assemblage of biodiversity. Carbon pools of these wetlands are poorly described, but we know they are large. Because of the accumulation of C over several millennia, these areas are among the largest terrestrial C pools on Earth. Despite covering only about 0.25% of the Earth’s land surface, tropical peatlands contain around 3% of the global soil carbon stocks and at least 20% of global peat carbon. We have good evidence that land use/ cover change in these ecosystems result in the emission of large quantities of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Halting degradation and restoring both the lost peatland and mangrove carbon sinks could result in signi”cant mitigation of emissions. This panel will present research results from the Center for International Forestry Research, the US Forest Service, the Indonesian Soils Research Institute, and the Global Environment Center. The presentations will show new assessments of carbon stocks in these ecosystems, which suggest that C stocks may be much higher than anticipated. Research teams are looking at several currently widespread types of conversion and will present new estimates of the effects of these conversions on greenhouse gas emission that show how impacts of land-use change may be dangerous for the climate system. These analyses will help better target climate change mitigation actions and improve greenhouse gas accounting methods. Restoration of degraded peatland and mangrove ecosystems is an effective way to reduce emissions and maintain the carbon storage function of the ecosystems. It is anticipated that in the future – carbon “nance may be one of the important sources of funds to support protection and rehabilitation of peatlands and mangroves in the region.