UNenvironment: Protecting peatlands, protecting the planet
Peatlands take up only 3% of the earth’s surface yet they store almost 550 billion tons of carbon, twice as much as all the world’s forests together.
Peatlands are potentially one of the most effective tools for combating climate change. By preserving and restoring the world’s peatlands, we can reduce CO2 emissions and revive a fundamental ecosystem that delivers several benefits, including their role as natural carbon sinks.
World Wetlands Day which is celebrated each year on 2 February aims to highlight the importance of wetland ecosystems to the welfare of human beings. Peatlands in wetlands are particularly vital as they harbor potentially rich biodiversity, and are a good example of resilience to the impacts of climate change.
For global average temperatures to continue rising by less than two degrees Celsius, we need to care about the peatlands. Urgent steps must be taken, especially in the tropics to keep carbon where it is: in the wet peatlands and in the soil.
The world’s largest Ramsar transboundary wetlands are found in the Congo Basin. Comprising two Ramsar sites in the Republic of the Congo and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it covers a surface area of 129,000 square kilometers, almost the same size as Greece or Bangladesh.
Known as the Cuvette Centrale, the area contains close to 30 gigatons of carbon, which is equivalent to what the United States emits in 15 years.