Only wetlands are better then wetlands
Peat bogs play an important role in climate regulation. If peatlands are in a live wet status, they can efficiently preserve the carbon. More than this, when drained peatlands are moistened again, carbon dioxide emissions go down. Drained peatlands emit disproportionally more of carbon dioxide then any other type of land using. Experts invited by the Nordic Council of Ministers told this at the Paris COP-21 negotiations on climate changes.
Christopher Briggs, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, says that peatlands have not yet been adequately explored. “Peatlands are often viewed as wasteland; something located hardly anywhere and of little significance. This is a so-called “Cinderella syndrome:” if something is hard to appreciate, then its value cannot be perceived. Up until 2006, parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN FCCC) had never heard about peatlands. The Conference was taking place in Nairobi, and we had found peatlands nearby the site of the event. In Panama, in 2011, we organized a tour of peatlands for local authorities and journalists and they said that up until then had never known about their very existence.”
Meanwhile, “peat bogs absorb more greenhouse emissions than the rest of biomass on the Earth,” Mercan-Ellen Nielsen, President of the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM), says. And this is absolutely true. In the boreal system, wetlands absorb seven times as much of carbon dioxide as other ecosystems. However, we should remember that drained for peat excavation wetlands emit up to 50% greenhouse emissions of the entire amount of emissions (without including peat fires); e.g., Indonesia where peatlands occupy only 6% of the territory.
In northern countries, 44% of peatlands have been drained. 25 countries are responsible for 95% of greenhouse emissions caused by peatlands, without including fires, and Russia is one of them. Our country is on the second place on greenhouse emissions, while if we recalculate the same data per square kilometer, the leader is the European Union.
“Russia has the biggest wetland area in the Earth: wetlands occupy 80% of its territory!” – Andrey Sirin, Director of the RAS Forestry Institute, says. “Many wetlands in Russia, especially its European part, had been drained, and this seriously affected greenhouse emissions, especially methane.” Burning peatlands is the “hottest” topic for Russia, especially if we recollect the most recent events in Transbaikalia where over 584 thousand hectares of forests was burnt down.
One more important thing: peatlands work as insulators for the permafrost which occupies about 10 mln km² or more than 60% of the Russian territory. Live wet peatlands work as an insulator; they help the permafrost beneath them to stay unthawing even during the product of air temperatures above zero. When we destroy wetlands (in the course of construction or for peat excavation) we interfere with this process; the upper layers of the permafrost start to thaw and the organics preserved in them releases, methane emerges in the result of its decay and gets into the atmosphere thus increasing the further growth of the temperature..
Experts appeal, peatlands must stay wet!
A detailed video about restoration of wetlands you can see HERE