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.Buy now
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.Learn more
The numbers speak for themselves
CO2 emissions avoided
Endangered species protected
How can businesses have the most impact?
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.
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.
Restoration holds immense potential for climate change mitigation, since carbon emissions from peatland degradation currently contribute 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 the area (the process of assisted water supply) is essential, 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, reducing grazing pressures, and conserving organisms native to peatlands would also contribute to peat formation.
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.
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.
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.