From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Peatlands
Mains level : Ecological significance of Peatland conservation
Sustainably managing peatlands — peat-swamp forests found around the tropics — can protect humans from future pandemics, according to a new study.
What are Peatlands?
- Peatlands are terrestrial wetland ecosystems in which waterlogged conditions prevent plant material from fully decomposing.
- Consequently, the production of organic matter exceeds its decomposition, which results in a net accumulation of peat.
- Over millennia this material builds up and becomes several metres thick.
- They occur in almost every country on Earth, currently covering 3% of the global land surface.
- Peatland landscapes are varied – from blanket bog landscapes with open, treeless vegetation in the Flow Country of Scotland – a tentative World Heritage site – to swamp forests in Southeast Asia.
- Peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store. This area sequesters 0.37 gigatonnes of CO2 a year.
- In their natural, wet state peatlands provide vital ecosystem services.
- By regulating water flows, they help minimise the risk of flooding and drought and prevent seawater intrusion.
- In many parts of the world, peatlands supply food, fibre and other local products that sustain local economies.
- They also preserve important ecological and archaeological information such as pollen records and human artefacts.
Try this PYQ now:
In the context of mitigating the impending global warming due to anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide, which of the following can be the potential sites for carbon sequestration?
- Abandoned and Uneconomic coal seams
- Depleted oil and gas reservoirs
- Subterranean deep saline formations
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Why conserve peatlands?
- The protection and restoration of peatlands are vital in the transition towards a low-carbon and circular economy.
- Damaged peatlands contribute about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from the land-use sector.
- CO2 emissions from drained peatlands are estimated at 1.3 gigatonnes of CO2 annually.
- This is equivalent to 5.6% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
- Draining peatlands reduces the quality of drinking water due to pollution from dissolved compounds.
What is the new study?
- Peatlands were rich in biodiversity, including many potential vertebrate and invertebrate vectors, or carriers of disease, the study said.
- These included numerous vertebrates known to represent a risk of spreading zoonotic diseases, such as bats, rodents, pangolins and primates.
- These areas also faced high levels of habitat disruption such as wild or human-made fires and wildlife harvesting that was perfect conditions for potential emerging zoonotic diseases.
- The first reported case of Ebola in 1976 was from a peatland area.
- The cradle of the HIV/AIDS pandemic was believed to be around Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, another area with extensive peatlands.