IGCP 704 - Tropical peatland processes and ecosystem services

Brief outline of the project

Peatlands are a crucial part of the Earth’s System and they provide important ecosystem services, supporting biodiversity; carbon storage; water regulation; natural hazard regulation and recreational benefits. Peat statigraphy also provide archives of past environmental change and ecosystem sensitivity. Tropical peatlands are essential targets for research as scientists have recently discovered their extent is much larger than previously thought. Additionally tropical peat ecosystems are vital for many people’s livelihoods, providing food (fish, fruit, etc.) and other sources (wood, etc. including clean water). Anthropogenic pressures on peatlands can substantially alter this provision. For example, fires in drained southeast Asian peatlands have been labelled “a crime against humanity” due to the haze and pollution they cause, while releasing vast amounts of carbon to the atmosphere.

These anthropogenic impacts and climate forcings on peatland ecosystems have resulted in ecological changes, some of which are stored in the stratigraphic record. The project will focus on researching this record to better understand tropical peatlands. We are interested in:

(1) developing a better understanding of the palaeo-peatland records in tropics and their associations with recent climatic changes

(2) connecting our work with land-use change analysis,

(3) developing, along with stakeholders concerned with peatland resource management.

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