Mar 21, 2017 04:57 AM EDT
Peatlands have been recently discovered in Africa and Amazonia. According to the University of St. Andrews, this must be protected to prevent any environmental disasters.
The recent series of discoveries has revealed that the peatlands cover large parts of both Africa and Amazonia. Currently, it is still largely intact, given that it already faces a present-day frontier of agriculture.
St. Andrews led an international research team that identified a series of threats to these intact tropical peatlands. Also, the researchers highlighted the conversation methods particularly relevant to this kind of ecosystem.
The research focuses on the largest known intact of tropical peatland that is found in Amazonia. The Pastaza-Marañón Basin in north-east Peru is a case study.
The study lead author, Dr. Katy from the School of Geography and Sustainable Development at St. Andrews said that "The key to preserving these peatlands, which are a type of wetland, is maintaining their water balance. You need to keep the water table high," according to the University press release.
Dr. Roucoux added that in their study area, the major threat to the peatland's health is the fast-growing commercial agriculture. It is linked to the development of the new transport infrastructure. it makes an easier access for the big companies to go to the remote areas.
Though some of the peatlands in the Pastaza-Marañón Basin were found to fall on the existing legally protected areas such as national parks, the team revealed that it is not enough. The experts said that the protection is weak, patchy and not even focused on the protection of the most carbon-rich zones.
The study co-author, Dr. Ian Lawson mentioned that "By comparing legally-protected areas with our model of peatland distribution in the Pastaza-Marañón Basin. it became clear that although some of the peatlands are protected, the most carbon-rich peatlands happen to occur in areas that are much less well protected. That makes them vulnerable to future economic development in the region."
The team has identified different key pathways for the conservation. The new carbon-based conservation funding, such as under the UN-backed schemes, for example, the Green Climate Fund of which the UK contributes, could help the local communities protect their environment. By doing so, they also aim to achieve a sustainable economic development, according to Phys.Org.
As follows, by harvesting sustainable peatland products such as palm fruit, it could provide an alternative to the monoculture plantations. Thus, Dr. Roucoux shared that "We argue that conservation should be focused in the first instance on the most carbon-rich peatlands, not just in Amazonia but across the tropics."