Congo Basin peatlands : threats and conservation priorities
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The recent publication of the first spatially explicit map of peatlands in the Cuvette Centrale, central Congo Basin, reveals it to be the most extensive tropical peatland complex, at ca. 145,500 km2. With an estimated 30.6 Petagrams of carbon stored in these peatlands, there are now questions about whether these carbon stocks are under threat and, if so, what can be done to protect them. Here we analyse the potential threats to Congo Basin peat carbon stocks and identify knowledge gaps in relation to these threats, and to how the peatland systems might respond. Climate change emerges as a particularly pressing concern, given its potential to destabilize carbon stocks across the whole area. Socio-economic developments are increasing across central Africa and, whilst much of the peatland area is on paper protected by some form of conservation designation, the potential exists for hydrocarbon exploration, logging, plantations, and other forms of disturbance to significantly damage the peatland ecosystems. The low level of human intervention at present suggests that the opportunity still exists to protect the peatlands in a largely intact state, possibly drawing on climate mitigation funding, which can be used not only to protect the peat carbon pool but also to improve the livelihoods of people living in and around these peatlands.
Dargie , G C , Lawson , I T , Rayden , T , Miles , L , Mitchard , E , Page , S , Bocko , Y , Ifo , S & Lewis , S 2018 , ' Congo Basin peatlands : threats and conservation priorities ' Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change , vol. First Online . https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-017-9774-8
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
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