Sabangau Forest -Preserving Peatlands—REALLY IMPORTANT —who knew?
The peat layer in Sabangau has formed slowly over 20,000 years and is up to 15 m deep in places. Being made almost completely of plant matter, peat is a major store of carbon. When drained, it begins to break down and oxidise, and becomes very susceptible to fire, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: the current total peatland CO2 emissions in South-east Asia are estimated to be equal to almost 8% of global emissions from fossil fuel combustion, from just 0.1% of the global land area (Hooijer et al., 2006). When CO2 emissions from degraded peatlands are included, Indonesia is the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the USA and China (it is 21st excluding peat emissions). Preserving tropical peatlands in their natural state is therefore one of the most effective ways of limiting global warming. Logging, peat drainage and fire all disturb the ecosystem’s natural balance and, unfortunately, these all occur when peat-swamp forests are converted to oil palm plantation and other forms of agriculture. /blockquote>