Capturing Carbon through Peatland Management

14 Feb, 2024

Did you know peatlands store about 30% of land-based carbon – twice the amount of all the world’s forests? Peatlands are also essential for preserving biodiversity, safeguarding water resources, and reducing flood risks.

Peatlands are the superheroes of carbon capture, acting as the Earth's largest natural carbon store. However, damaged peatlands can become villains, emitting greenhouse gases instead. The good news? Restoring these ecosystems can significantly slash emissions and fight climate change.

Although a wealth of information exists on global peatlands, there is an overall lack of information regarding peatlands in the Indian subcontinent except for a few studies from the Nilgiris Hills in southern India, the Himalayan Basin, and the western coast. Furthermore, peatlands are not included as a separate wetland class in the National Wetland Atlas (2022). Most global assessments indicate India as a region with significant knowledge gaps on peatland coverage and its management.

This raises the importance of a detailed assessment of peatlands in India for determining the magnitude of carbon stocks and greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands and to support sustainable peatland management in India. This will strengthen the implementation of Amrit Dharohar and the achievement of India’s NDCs, focusing on enhancing carbon stock.

In that context, a workshop was organised by GIZ in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and Wetlands International South Asia (WISA) under the chairmanship of Dr. Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC, on 14-15 February 2024, in New Delhi. The workshop had the participation of international peatland experts, including the Greifswald Mire Centre, Wetlands International (Netherlands, China, Indonesia, and India), Center for International Forestry Research, and the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency of the Republic of Indonesia, as well as national experts from the Space Application Centre, IUCN, and leading national and regional institutions and wetland managers working in landscapes with potential peatland sites in India. The workshop helped to establish state of art on peatland assessment in India, deliberate on national peatland definition, develop an understanding of information base required to describe a peatland, and synthesise partnerships and develop capacities towards inventory and assessment of peatlands in India.

This was followed by a field visit to Khecheopalri wetland in Sikkim for the assessment of potential peatland, including the ecology, historical changes in land use and drainage, stakeholders, and management interventions at the site.

Peatlands play a pivotal role in achieving the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 13: Climate Action and Goal 15: Life on Land. By enhancing carbon stock and safeguarding our natural heritage, we can pave the way for a greener, more sustainable future for generations to come.

Workshop on: Developing a Programme for Peatlands in India | © GIZ India/Purva Shah

Peatland soil sampling at Khecheopalri wetland in Sikkim | © GIZ India/Purva Shah

About the project

The Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection project aims to strengthen the institutional framework and capacities for an ecosystem-based integrated management of wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites) in India. Four Ramsar sites have been selected as pilot sites under the project: Pong Dam and Renuka Lake in Himachal Pradesh, Bhitarkanika Mangroves in Odisha, and the Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. The project is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in close cooperation with the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA). This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. Read More

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