PHOTOGRAPH: SANNA PIILO
We have posted enough times about the importance of protecting peat, but this is the first we hear the question Carbon-Rich Peat Is Disappearing. But Is It Also Growing? Our thanks to Matt Simon at Wired for this one:
Peat bogs on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. ALAN NOVELLI / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Peat made two appearances in our pages in 2014, both underscoring the importance of this type of landscape for storing carbon. More such stories in 2017 and again last year made it clear how the case has been building over the years:
Peatlands make up 3 percent of the earth’s landscape, yet absorb large amounts of carbon and harbor surprising biodiversity. Although peat bogs and fens are under increasing environmental threat, efforts to protect and restore these ecosystems are gathering momentum.
Peatlands in northern Canada’s Mackenzie Valley, seen here in autumn. ED STRUZIK
The Aweme borer is a yellowish-brown moth with an inch-and-a half wingspan. In the often-colorful world of lepidopterology — the study of moths and butterflies — it’s not particularly flashy, but it is exceedingly rare. For decades, entomologists thought the moth lived in the sand dunes and oak savannahs in southern Manitoba and the Great Lakes region. Continue reading
Andrew Coupar, a NatureScot peatlands expert, at the Forsinard visitor centre. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian
If you go to the home improvement center, or any gardening shop, you will see this stuff in plastic bags, ranging in size from small pillow to half-bale. If you purchase it you are buying into a destructive practice that goes beyond the destruction of amazingly beautiful landscape. If heritage status helps end that, we are all for it:
BBC: In Amazonia’s most carbon-dense ecosystems, an estimate 90% is stored underground as peat
A couple of weeks ago, we featured a story from another British news source about the peat success story in Indonesia, where the new president has pledged to tackle his country’s deforestation rate, the highest in the world. President Joko Widodo announced that both rainforest and peatland would be protected under his governance, even if that meant cracking down on the powerful plantation companies.
This week, scientists at institutions in the UK, Finland, and Peru published a paper in Environmental Research Letters calculating that peatlands, rather than rainforest, are the most dense store of carbon in Amazonia. Mark Kinver reports for BBC News:
Writing in the paper, the scientists observed: “This investigation provides the most accurate estimates to date of the carbon stock of an area that is the largest peatland complex in the Neotropics.”
They said it also confirmed “the status of the [Pastaza-Marañón foreland basin in north-west Peru] as the most carbon-dense landscape in Amanozia”.
“We expected to find these peatlands but what was more of surprise was how extensive they were, and how much this relatively small area contributed to Peru’s carbon stock,” explained co-author Freddie Draper from the University of Leeds.
The 120,000 sq km basin accounts for just about 3% of the Peruvian Amazon, yet it stores almost 50% of its carbon stock, which equates to about three billion tonnes.