Side Event 3.2: Lessons learned and best practices for the management of tropical peatlands: An inter-tropical dialogue

02 Dec 2018

The session will be opened by HE Siti Nurbaya with an overview of Indonesian peat challenges and actions highlighting experiences from Indonesia, together with other actors in this country, as well as experiences from Botswana and Peru on the different angles that governments, private sector, and research institutes currently use to tackle multiple challenges to sustainably managing peatlands in a changing world.

In the spirit of intra-tropical cooperation this session will share “Lessons learned and best practices for the management of tropical peatlands: An inter-tropical dialogue”. Linked to the need to advance towards creative land management solutions, Indonesia, Peru and Botswana will share practical insights into their on-going activities on how they are working toward sustainably managing their tropical peatlands. Their lessons highlight the diversity of socio-economic and climatic contexts as well as varying goals in relation to peatlands conservation, restoration, agricultural production and ecotourism. This session will share the challenges and innovative solutions that different sectors and partners have come to as a compromise between supporting livelihoods, supporting production, and maintaining the ecosystem services provided by these valuable and unique yet fragile ecosystems, in a changing world.

Peatlands are found all over the world, they come in many forms, display many different characteristics and are used in many different ways. Although they only cover a small percent of the global land surface, they contain twice as much carbon as the world’s forests. With a long-recognized presence in boreal ecosystems, tropical peatlands are now gaining momentum not only because their deposits are more extended and deeper than previously thought, but because they are suffering imminent threats.

Peatlands are highly efficient carbon sinks that have been storing dead organic material for the past 15,000 years. Current development activities and climate change are however threatening to release these stored carbon deposits through droughts, drainage, land cover changes, and fire. This release has large consequences not only for climate change (increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2) but also as a threat to economies and human health in the form of regional haze through fire.

Despite their importance, tropical peatlands are one of the least understood and monitored ecosystems in the tropics. This lack of knowledge must be addressed as peatlands become more accessible through development and in large-scale commodity investments. Historically, throughout many peatland areas, poorly informed policy decisions have created situations resulting in vast land degradation through drainage and fire, which have long-term local and global impacts.

Connected to the Global Peatland Initiative, this session aims to support an inter-tropical dialogue to expose current and future challenges and innovative solutions to best manage peatlands for different goals including conservation, restoration, agricultural production, ecotourism from the perspective of livelihood development, economic growth and ecosystem service protection.

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