Peatlands in the global carbon cycle and their role as modifiers
Nigel T. Roulet, James McGill Professor of Biogeosciences
Department of Geography and the Global Environmental and Climate Change Research Centre, McGill
University, 805 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal H3A 2K6 Canada (email@example.com)
The role of peatlands in the climate system stems from their influence on the global carbon cycle - specifically the net ecosystem exchanges of CO2 and CH4. Estimates vary considerably but northern peatlands store between ~ 20 and 30% of Earth’s terrestrial carbon and account for between ~ 5 to 15% of the annual emissions of CH4 to atmosphere.
The long-term removal of CO2 and emission of CH4 from peatlands suggest they could represent a -0.5 W m-2 reduction in global radiative forcing in the Holocene climate (equivalent to ~ 10 to 20% of anthropogenic climate forcing since ~ 1700). However, these estimates are based on the highly uncertain because they require reconciling the rate and magnitude of ecosystem biogeochemical cycles with the lifetime and the radiative properties of at least two (CO2, CH4) and possibly three (N2O) greenhouse gases.
Understanding the processes that regulate the exchange of CO2 and CH4 well enough to simulate the response of peatlands to environmental change, such as the direct and indirect consequences of climate and/or land cover changes, is a not a trivial problem. Not only do these estimates require good descriptions of the structure and function of ecosystem biogeochemistry, but an equally good description of the physical attributes of the energy exchanges and hydrology. Relatively small changes in the moisture storage (5 – 10%) and temperature (2 – 3oC), could lead to large changes in ecosystem production and respiration. Persistent changes in moisture (e.g. water table changes of ±5 – 10 cm) can alter the structure of the plant community leading to orders of magnitude change in CH4 exchange. Integrated energy-water-biogeochemical models of peatlands need to take account of not only the changes in ecosystem function but also ecosystem structure - i.e. the dynamics of peatland functional plants types, are required to assess the future role of peatlands in a changing climate.
Many peatlands have some self-regulation. However, the limits of homeostasis may be exceeded if environmental change occurs too quickly and/or is too large. A central question in peatland research is whether climate change will push some peatlands beyond their envelope of selfregulation. Certain changes, such as the melting of permafrost, have the potential to very rapidly send peatland off on a trajectory that might cause transitions to very a different forms of peatlands with a different structures and functions.
Strategy for responsible peatland management – what and what next?
Jack Rieley, Chairman Scientific Advisory Board, International Peat Society
University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, firstname.lastname@example.org
The International Peat Society (IPS) has been actively promoting the ‘Wise Use of Peat and Peatlands’ since the 10th International Peat Congress in Bremen, Germany, in 1996. In 1997 IPS commenced dialogue with the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG) on matters of mutual interest and concern. The Surwold declaration in 1997, and the Freising declaration of 1999, identified an initial 12 topics for discussion of which wise use was the most important and led to the publication of the joint IMCG/IPS book “Wise Use of Mires and Peatlands: Background and Principles including a Framework for Decision-making”, edited by Hans Joosten and Donal Clarke. Copies of the ‘Wise Use Book’ were distributed to delegates attending Ramsar CoP8 in Valencia, Spain in 2002. In a parallel activity IPS, IMCG and other wetland NGOs (Wetlands International and IUCN Netherlands), meeting again in Freising, Germany agreed on a policy document, ‘Global Action for Peatlands (GAP)’ that was submitted to Ramsar Standing Committee for inclusion as a resolution in the Valencia CoP. This was accepted in principle and modified subsequently before being agreed as Resolution VIII.17 of CoP8. The overall aim of this is to achieve recognition of the importance of peatlands for the maintenance of biodiversity, storage of water and carbon and to promote their wise use, conservation and management. A Coordinating Committee for Global Action on Peatlands (CC-GGAP) was established by Ramsar to prepare an Implementation Plan that would deliver priority actions and encourage international organisations and other stakeholders to prepare or refine their own plans.
The CC-GAP may have become inactive but its work inspired IPS to take the initiative in facilitating stakeholder meetings that led in 2010 to the Strategy for Responsible Peatland Management (SRPM). The challenge now is how to use this Strategy as a platform for certification of peatlandand peat products, preparing practical wise use guidelines for different sectors and achieving sustainable supply chains. The European Peat and Growing Media Association (EPAGMA) and the International Peat Society are working together towards certification of responsible peat production and to establish common international standards, of which the SRPM is the first stage. The future is promising! This presentation will identify priorities for action to integrate principles of responsible management into peat and peatland activities at local, national, regional and international levels and initiate discussion on how to implement this with the consensus of stakeholders.
Governance of Peatland Resources – a national Swedish Perspective
Address from leading competence within ministry/government – not yet confirmed!
Challenges and prospects for
the peat and growing media industry –
Leading the way to responsible resource management
Norbert Siebels Chairman of the European Peat and Growing Media Association (EPAGMA)
Managing Director of Klasmann-Deilmann GmbH
The European Peat and Growing Media Industry (EPAGMA) is an importantcontributor to the sustainability of modern horticulture. It represents an industry with 1.3 billion € annual turnover, accounting for 11.000 jobs across the EU. The peat industry is also a key actor in the efforts to secure the supply of energy in some regions in Europe.
Every day, our industry is challenged by environmental, economical and societal as well as product quality issues and we have the obligation to address these issues. EPAGMA and its members fully acknowledges their responsibilities. We strive to take the lead in evaluating and continuously improving responsible Peatland management in order to sustain peat and growing media production resulting in higher environmental standards and sustainable industrial policies. In this regard, EPAGMA is committed to promoting the unique properties of peat as the key growing medium constituent in horticultural plant production and the responsible use of peat as a local energy source. Against this background, EPAGMA supports the implementation of the IPS “Strategy for Responsible Peatland Management” by its members and the industry as a whole.
EPAGMA has codified its commitment to the best environmental practices within a voluntary Code of Practice, which all members will comply with in a responsible manner. The Code is designed to monitor industrial peat production chains and to gradually increase the quality of growing media constituents. EPAGMA will take a step by step approach to establishing a strong mechanism ensuring compliance with the Code, in order to guarantee higher quality to consumers and to constantly raise the environmental standards of peat production.
EPAGMA has also commissioned a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on major growing media constituents to evaluate their environmental impact and to provide a tool for furthering the industry’s responsible Peatland management.
Current and future debates on the use of peat for horticulture are not only bordered by decisions concerning the ‘Sustainable Peat Supply Chain’ but also by radical approaches to phase out the use of peat in horticulture. These are our challenges - for the peat and for growing media industry, but also for the horticultural industry.
And finally one of EPAGMA’s key efforts seeks to find solutions to the increasing diversity of rules and regulations among EU Member States, such as labelling, packaging and bureaucratic requirements, in order to enhance the freedom of circulation and transparency of growing media. This would create an important framework under which to discuss further concerted efforts to maximise the sustainability of this industry.