Permafrost and Peatlands – An Emerging Frontier in the defence against Climate Change

Peatlands are found all over the world, they come in many forms, display many different characteristics and are used in many different ways. Peatlands are highly effective carbon stores and long-term sinks. Although they only cover less than 3 per cent of global land surface, estimates suggest that peatlands contain twice as much carbon as the world’s forest biomass. Despite their importance and the extent of the threats they face, peatlands are one of the least understood and monitored ecosystems.

The Global Peatlands Initiative is a partnership of 28 organizations aiming to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and save thousands of lives by protecting peatlands, the world’s largest terrestrial-soil organic carbon stock. Despite the growing momentum to mobilize governments, international organizations and academia in a targeted effort to protect peatlands, there is still a need for more countries, policy makers and senior level government technical advisors to become aware of the urgency of action to prevent the loss of peatlands to fires, degradation through drainage or disturbance and agricultural conversion. The protection of permafrost and other boreal and temperate peatlands is extremely important, yet has been a somewhat overlooked area in Climate Change adaptation and mitigation dialogues.

Professor Hans Joosten will discuss the complex issue of permafrost and peatlands. Mongolian colleagues will share the latest findings on the role of peatlands in protection of permafrost from thawing in Mongolia. Permafrost in this country is the last source of freshwater and basis in the adaptation to Climate Change. Tatiana Minayeva (Minajewa) will present the work ongoing in Mongolia and share the findings of the “Arctic peatlands” chapter in The Wetland Book (2017). Speakers will also highlight experiences from the Russian Arctic on the impacts of land use decisions on carbon stocks in peatlands and permafrost and give overview of the connection to GHG emissions. Darya Ryazantseva (Ethnoexpert, Russia) will present pilots on the Arctic peatlands ecosystem restoration project initiated and implemented by indigenous people of Nenets and Yamal and funded by businesses under ongoing social and environment responsibility programs.

The David Suzuki Foundation and Indigenous partners will share their work supporting conservation in areas of the Boreal Forest and Arctic, that overlap peatlands in Canada. A Canadian Inuit representative will speak about climate change actions and indigenous-led conservation in Canada’s Far North that promotes climate friendly action, conservation and efforts to ensure thriving livelihoods. We will discuss some of the land-use planning approaches in Canada’s Boreal and Arctic regions and share experiences and best practice approaches. Landscape scale land use planning that is informed by Indigenous traditional knowledge of Boreal and permafrost peatlands will be more successful in ensuring the health of these unique ecosystems is maintained, allowing them to continue to provide carbon storage and sequestration capacity in the fight against climate change.

Moderator: Dianna Kopansky, UN Environment, Global Peatlands Initiative
– H Joosten, Greifswald Mire Centre (Germany)
– Y Beaudoin, David Suzuki Foundation (Canada)
– T Minayeva, Care for Ecosystems (Germany)
– D.Ryazantseva, Ethnoexpert (Russia)
– Candice Pedersen, an Inuk from Iaqluit, the capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut

Keep it Cool: Fixing the Climate with Permafrost and Peatlands

Language: English

Year: 2019

Ecosystem(s): Wetlands and Peatlands

Location(s): Canada

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