Peatlands

Our planet stores large amounts of carbon within natural ecosystems. One such storehouse are peatlands, which store over 500-600 gigatons, second only to oceans. This is an incredible feat, considering that peatlands only occupy 0.3% of our Earth’s surface.

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Investing in peatland conservation

Peatlands have a huge capacity for carbon storage because they are a type of wetland that is permanently waterlogged. The water slows down the decomposition of dead plants and leaves, which eventually creates layers of dead organic matter called peat. Layers of peat build up over time, locking carbon away from the atmosphere for hundreds and thousands of years.

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The Numbers speak for themselves

Earthly recognises that for timely climate action, we will have to act smart and invest in opportunities that bring bigger benefits from carbon storage and biodiversity perspectives. Peatland restoration, especially in tropical regions like Indonesia and Amazonia can bring the much-needed stability of their natural biodiversity while improving the standard of living for communities around the peatlands.

47,000

Hectares protected

36,505,191

C02 emissions avoided (total project)

2,586

People Supported

54

Endangered Animals Supported

Peatland protection

Peat takes thousands of years to form. Once degraded, peatlands are very hard to restore. Certain peatlands are also sites of “irrecoverable carbon”. This means that once destroyed, it will be impossible to recover them and the carbon storage by 2050 - the moment the world must reach net-zero emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Supporting sustainable land use

Due to these reasons, protecting intact peatlands from drainage and conversion is the most effective intervention for long-term carbon storage and mitigation. Actions for peatland protection may include legal protections for peatland, and improvements to water drainage facilities and fire protection regimes to ensure the waterlogged conditions allow peat formation to continue. Advocacy for peatland protection is also essential- so that peatlands are not allocated for ill-studied tree planting activities, such as in the case of Scotland, UK where the local government converts unused peatlands to meet their tree planting targets.

Peatland Restoration

Peatland restoration are management actions that aim to return the peatlands to their original functioning state. Restoration holds immense potential for climate change mitigation, since carbon emissions from peatland degradation currently contributes to a whopping 5% of global anthropogenic emissions.

Peatlands when converted lose their water content and release the stored carbon within them. To revive peatlands, rewetting of the area is essential - which is the process of assisted water supply - either through unblocking natural drainage or connecting. Restoring the waterlogged condition allows peats the necessary push for natural revival. Additional steps like assisting regeneration through re-introducing native peat forming species or reducing grazing pressures and conserving organisms native to peatlands would also contribute to peat formation.

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Climate benefit

Peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store. They store more carbon than all other vegetation types in the world combined. The amount of carbon stored within peatlands is twice that held by the world’s forests, at an estimated 500 to 600 gigatons.

Biodiversity benefit

Many organisms found in peatlands are found nowhere else on earth. Damage to peatlands leads to a direct loss of those species, many of which include rare plants and animals that can only survive in these unique, watery environments.

People benefit

Peatlands are crucial for regulating water flows, minimizing the risk of flooding and drought, and preventing seawater intrusion. Wet peatlands lower ambient temperatures in surrounding areas, providing refuge from extreme heat, and are less likely to burn during wildfires.