Protecting peatlands can help attain climate goals: A UN Report

22 March 2020

Peatlands are essential to combat climate change


According to a report from Food and Agricultural Organisation of UN(FAO), Peatlands, which play a crucial role in regulating global climate by acting as carbon sinks, are facing degradation and need to be urgently monitored. 


  • Peatlands cover only three per cent of Earth’s surface. 
  • Peatlands contain 30 per cent of the world’s soil carbon. When drained, these emit greenhouse gases, contributing up to one gigaton of emissions per year through oxidation.

Formation of Peatlands:
Peatlands are formed due to the accumulation of partially decomposed plant remains over thousands of years under conditions of water-logging

Benefits of Peatland:

  • Peatlands occur in different climate zones.In tropical climate, they can occur in mangroves, in Arctic regions, peatlands are dominated by mosses.
  • Besides climate mitigation, peatlands are important for archaeology, as they maintain pollen, seeds and human remains for a long time in their acidic and water-logged conditions.
  •  Pristine peatlands are important for recreation activities. These areas also support livelihood in the form of pastoralism.
  • The vegetation growing on pristine peatlands provide different kinds of fibres for construction activities and handicrafts.
  • Many wetland species produce berries, mushrooms and fruits, often economically important to local communities.
  •  Peatlands also provide fishing and hunting opportunities. It is also possible to practise paludiculture or wet agriculture on rewetted peatlands.
  •  Peatlands reduces emissions and can play an important role in achieving the objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Causes of degradation of Peatlands:
Draining and land clearing can cause degradation of peat lands.

Restoration of Peatlands:

  • Indonesia has 40% tropical peatlands. The Govt has created Peat Ecosystem Restoration Information System(PRIMS) to report on the peatlands and their restoration.
  • Restoration involves protecting them from degrading activities such as agricultural conversion and drainage, and restoring the waterlogged conditions required for peat formation to prevent the release of carbon stored in peat soil.

Peatlands in India:

  • Peatlands occupy roughly 320–1,000 square kilometres area. 
  • In Indiapeatlands have been recorded in Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and north Sikkim. Some parts of the Western Ghats have peat too. A lot of our deltas and mangroves have the propensity to develop into peat

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