Scientists: protect vast Amazon peatland to avoid palm oil 'environmental disaster'
A recently discovered peatland in northeast Peru contains two years worth of US carbon emissions, writes Joe Sandler Clarke, but it's under
Clarke, Joe Sandlerhttp://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2988795/scientists_protect_vast_amazon_peatland_to_avoid_palm_oil_environmental_disaster.html
Publisher: The Ecologist
Date Written: 23/03/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20571
The peatland in Pastaza-Marañón Foreland Basin in northeast Peru - discovered in 2009 by Finnish scientist Outi Lähteenoja - is said to contain 3.14 gigatons of carbon, roughly equivalent to two years of CO2 emissions from the United States. Scientists have said that economic development in the region, like road-building and the arrival of commercial agriculture threatens the important ecosystem.
In Indonesia, a country famous for its tropical peatlands, Harvard University researchers estimated that over 90,000 people suffered premature deaths in devastating forest fires in 2015 which were linked to the rapid expansion of palm oil and other intensive agriculture in the country. To prevent future fires the Indonesian government recently introduced new restrictions on developing on peatland.
Currently, the vast majority of the world's palm oil comes from Southeast Asia, specifically Malaysia and Indonesia. But as the industry continues to expand, companies have been looking to move into South America and Africa. The recent discovery of a massive area of peatland, thought to be the size of England in the Congo Basin, added to conservation calls in Central Africa.