Globallandscapesforum: New pact to conserve Congo Basin peatlands from risk of unsustainable exploitation
ONN, Germany (Landscapes News) — A new international agreement aims to protect a massive tract of environmentally sensitive peatlands in the Congo Basin from unsustainable exploitation that could otherwise potentially lead to the release of the equivalent of three years of global greenhouse gas emissions, U.N. Environment (UNEP) reports.
The agreement, signed by Congo Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia in Congo Republic’s capital Brazzaville establishes a foundation for cooperation on agriculture, oil and gas mining, and logging projects in the Cuvette Centrale region, the world’s largest tropical peatlands.
An area the size of England, the peatlands are comprised of layers of decomposed organic material built up over thousands of years. They are home to unique plants and wildlife. Drainage of the fragile wetland ecosystem can lead to devastation due to increased vulnerability to fire and other threats. The declaration recognizes the importance of good land use and infrastructure planning that takes the nature of peatlands into account, according to a statement from UNEP.
“Peatlands have grown over the course of 10,000 years, and they can be destroyed in a matter of days if the land use is not sensitive to the nature of the peatlands,” said Tim Christophersen, head of the Freshwater, Land and Climate Branch at UNEP.
The pact was signed on the sidelines of the Third Partners Meeting of the Global Peatlands Initiative this week opened by Erik Solheim, head of UNEP and Prime Minister Clément Mouamba of the Republic of Congo. The initiative seeks to save peatlands and protect the carbon they store.
“Conservation and development can go hand in hand,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UNEP. “We will manage to conserve the peatlands if we put people’s needs first. We can help countries to better understand the unique nature of the peatlands, and plan very carefully for any potential use.”