Keep Peat In Place

Nanna Heitmann for The New York Times

Peat is back on our radar, with this excellent report by Matthew Thompson in the New York Times. It is part of a new series called Headway, an initiative “exploring the world’s challenges through the lens of progress,” which is exactly the founding sentiment of our platform here. So, read on:

Rural Congolese villagers are being asked to protect one of earth’s most precious ecosystems. What can other places contribute to our shared future?

Imagine someone showed up on your doorstep one day and told you that the swampy forest not far from your home contained a rare and precious soil, so powerful that the planet’s future hinges on its preservation. The world is relying on you to keep the soil undisturbed, you’re told, or sinister forces will be unleashed, large enough to doom us all.

Soon, more visitors come your way, this time bearing axes. How do you stop them?

This plot out of a sci-fi movie is unfolding in our own cinematic universe, amid a sprinkling of rural villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The precious resource the villagers have been asked to protect is the ecological marvel called a peatland, a type of ecosystem that composes only 3 percent of the earth’s landmass, but houses 30 percent of its carbon — more than is stored within all the world’s forests, twice over. Just a few years ago, researchers confirmed that this part of the world is home to the largest network of tropical peatlands on Earth…

Read the whole article here.

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