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The potential of responsible peatland management to reduce global soil carbon loss and greenhouse gas emissions

Evans, Chris; Page, Sue; Morrison, Ross; Artz, Rebekka; Wijedasa, Lahiru. 2017 The potential of responsible peatland management to reduce global soil carbon loss and greenhouse gas emissions. In: Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon, Rome, 21-23 Mar 2017. Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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Abstract/Summary

Peatlands represent the largest single global store of soil carbon. Despite providing a natural long-term CO2 sink, drainage and conversion to agricultural and silivicultural management of peatlands has converted them into large net contributors to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (~2.5% of all anthropogenic emissions, primarily from Europe and SE Asia). Drainage-based agriculture on peatlands is intrinsically unsustainable, causing oxidative loss of soil organic matter and land-subsidence, which ultimately reduce or negate their value for agriculture. Returning all drained peatlands to their natural wetland function could make a substantial contribution to reducing global GHG emissions, but socio-economic factors – namely the high realisable income from drained agricultural peatlands, intensifying demand for land in regions with growing populations, and lack of adequate financial incentives for conserving or restoring natural peatlands – make such an outcome unlikely in the short to medium term. We therefore consider the potential climate mitigation benefits of the adoption of an interim move towards ‘responsible peatland management’, which seeks to minimise GHG emissions from areas under ongoing agricultural use via the implementation of higher water level management strategies and alternative crops. We also discuss the possibility to create ‘future carbon sinks’ by restoring degraded agricultural peatlands to peat-forming systems.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Paper)
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
Emmett
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Freely available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: peatlands, responsible management, water table, greenhouse gas emissions, methane
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 12 Jun 2017 13:31 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/517078

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