Peatlands have largely been ignored. Covering only around 3% to 5% of the earth’s surface, they are home to more than 30% of carbon stored in soil worldwide, making them critical for climate change mitigation and adaptation. They provide food, medicine, timber and habitat for endangered species such as the orangutan. Despite all of this, tropical peatlands remain one of the least understood and monitored ecosystems.
What looks like an impenetrable tangle of tree roots and muck is actually a carbon treasure. Wetlands, which include peatlands and mangroves, are home to 60% of the world’s people and threatened species like the Sumatran tiger – but shrimp farming and other agricultural development are rapidly eating them up.
Mangroves are unique, yet widespread communities of salt-tolerant trees and shrubs that grow in shallow and brackish ocean water in tropical and subtropical climates. They are adapted to oxygen-poor tidal zones, taking sustenance from the sea and fresh water from the land.