They are one of the harshest environments on the planet and also one of the most important in terms of carbon storage. New research hopes to reveal the role these threatened bogs could play in the climate change story
The good news
The good news is that if we block drainage canals, peatlands can be partly restored by preventing water levels from declining further. Planting native plants in degraded areas can also help by retaining water. Further damage can be mitigated by such measures, but whether damaged peatlands will ever recover their lost carbon and ecological potential, Kolka says no one knows, and if they can, timescales could be in the thousands of years.
One potential way to secure the world’s vulnerable peatlands is through the global carbon market. Indonesian entrepreneur Dharsono Hartono spent nine years working to secure a Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) for his Katingan Projectin Borneo. Today it’s the largest land use VCS project on the planet, covering 157,875 hectares (390,000 acres) of peatland containing a gigatonne of carbon, according to Hartono, and is a vital community project promoting less carbon-intensive agriculture. Carbon storage varies by peatland but generally is 30–70kg of carbon per cubic meter (35 cubic feet).
“This is a long-term business, you just have to be persistent,” Hartono says, adding that now that his “product” is ready he’s on the look out for buyers.
Hartono started the project with a focus on climate change, but he says it has since transformed: “It’s become a story of the people,” he says, who are the “heart and soul” of the project.
Thirty-four villages surround Hartono’s concession in a buffer area that is partly peatlands as well. In order to protect the main site from fires, the project also has to change neighboring farms. Hartono and his team have spent the past few years helping communities shift from slash-and-burn farming to what he calls “climate-smart agriculture.”
“You have to find a solution, you can’t just tell people not to burn,” he says.
Read more at theguardian.com