One of the three offsetting projects which we include within our portfolio supports the conservation and protection of peatland in Katinga, Indonesia.
Peatlands are a form of wetlands, bogs and moors, where the year round waterlogged conditions slow the decomposition of dead vegetation to the extent it transforms into peat soil, with a diverse habitat growing above it. The carbon which is sequestered (absorbed) by the vegetation is then stored within the peatbog for millions of years.
Not only does it slow down the release of, and store the carbon, the world’s peatland is estimated to sequester 0.37 gigatonnes of CO2 a year which is the same as the emissions of the United Kingdom in 2018!
The world’s peatland stores more carbon than all of the world’s forestry, which means that conserving it is extremely important and often overlooked.
These peatland carbon stores have been under threat for several hundreds of years, where they have been mined for use within heating and electrical power generation.
Like the burning of wood, this releases the carbon directly into the atmosphere. In addition, increased human activities have meant that the peatland is drained to support the expansion of residential and industrial plantation farming.
The greenhouse gas emissions from damaged bogs release almost 6% of annual global anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 emissions.
The biodiversity of peatland is another reason why conservation is important: the decline of the Bornean Orangutan population by 60% within a sixty-year period is largely attributed to the loss (to forest fires) of its peat swamp habitat.
The field surveys of the Katingan Peatland Conservation and Restoration project identified 67 mammals, 157 birds, 41 reptiles, 8 amphibians, 111 fish, and 314 floral species within the restoration area.
This project works to protect 149,800 hectares of peatland, including;
- the reforestation of 4,433 hectares, preventing loss to industrial timber plantations for pulpwood
- mitigating the release of 14,254,599 tonnes of carbon in vegetation and 546,767,493 tonnes stored in the peatland
- the project also provides a more sustainable source of income to local communities, other than selling the land to the industrial plantations.
Along with the reforestation, a community-led agroforestry approach means that economically valuable local species will be planted to support local communities and livelihoods. Rewetting will be undertaken where drainage of the peatland areas has already started.
The project aligns itself with three of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG):
8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, via the agroforestry programme.
13 – Climate Action, through the protection of these vital carbon sinks
15 – Life on land, protecting and restoring the natural environment and ecosystems to support native species, such as the Bornean Orangutan and the Proboscis Monkey.
Recently peatland has gained an important position in the UK government’s 10 point plan for climate change – the plan which outlines the UK’s measures to address climate change. Restoration of peatland is also a key feature of England’s Environmental Land Management (ELM) system, which replaces the EU’s Farm Subsidies system, and provides grants to England’s farmers for undertaking many carbon storage initiatives.
We’re really proud to be supporting a project that has so many benefits to the planet, over and above the original aim of carbon offsetting.