Peatland

What is peat?

Peat is a special kind of soil: it is very deep, it contains many dead plants, and it is mostly water. Peat is very important for us. In particular, it is very important for dealing with climate change.

Indonesia has many peat swamp forests.

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Why are healthy peatlands important?

  • Peat stores a lot of carbon-much more than other forests or types of soil. Keeping peatlands healthy and intact is very important for climate change mitigation.
  • When it rains, peat stores a lot of the water. Then, in dry seasons, it releases  the water slowly, providing a water supply.
  • When it rains a lot, peat soaks up much of the water. Then floods are not as bad.
  • Peat forests give a home to animals.
  • The water in peat  wetlands provides a home for fish. The fish are valuable for food and making money.

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What happens when peat is destroyed?

In many parts of Indonesia, there are plans to convert large parts of the peat forests to oil palm plantations. When peatlands are used for oil palm plantations, the water is drained, the trees are cut down, and the peat is dug up.

When peatland is destroyed, a lot of carbon is released into the atmosphere. This contributes to climate change. Climate change is already creating problems with the weather – and these effects will be worse without peat.

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