Peatland restoration and ecosystem services: Nature-based solutions for societal goals

Aletta Bonn, Tim Allott, Martin Evans, Hans Joosten, Rob Stoneman

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‘Peatland conservation is a prime example of a nature-based solution to climate change but we urgently need to switch from aspiration to action to secure the benefits that peatlands provide’. Julia Marton Lefèvre, former Director-General, IUCN Introduction The chapters of this book provide a compelling account of the crucial role of peatlands for human well-being and the role restoration can play in providing nature-based solutions to societal goals. Across the world, natural peatlands provide important ecosystem services, with a special role in climate regulation, water regulation, provision of cultural services, such as historical archives and recreation opportunities, and hosting important habitats for wildlife. In contrast, damaged peatlands on only 0.3% of the earth’s land surface contribute disproportionally to global GHG emissions, producing probably up to 50% of the total global land bound and 5% of the total global annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Degraded peatlands therefore pose a high risk and, ultimately, a high cost to society. At the heart of peatland degradation is the unsustainable exploitation of peatland resources, mainly to maximise provisioning services for agricultural and forestry produce (Chapters 2 and 9-14). There are still perverse incentives and economic drivers in place fostering short-term profits (Chapters 2, 15 and 19), while neglecting consequences for global natural capital and sustainable livelihoods. The speed of degradation is alarming, especially in the tropics. Natural peatland habitats in Indonesia have shrunk to just 32% of the original peatland area, with most of those losses occurring in the last two decades as peatlands are drained and logged and converted to oil palm or pulpwood plantations. These plantations often cannot be sustained for more than one or a few production cycles, because subsidence eventually makes drainage of the low-lying peat soils impossible (Chapter 14). In temperate Europe, the majority of the peatlands has already been degraded by land use and land-use change over the past 150 years (Chapters 2, 10, 12). In Canada, recent technological advances and a desire for energy independence have meant that tar sand extraction will destroy peatlands to a significant extent. Also in Europe some of the remaining peatlands remain under current threat from the energy industry.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPeatland Restoration and Ecosystem Services
Subtitle of host publicationScience, Policy and Practice
EditorsAletta Bonn, Tim Allott, Martin Evans, Hans Joosten, Rob Stoneman
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781139177788
ISBN (Print)9781107025189
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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