Greenhouse gas dynamics in degraded and restored tropical peatlands
Reference: Mires and Peat Volume 17: Article 06.
Authors: Jauhiainen, J., Page, S., Vasander, H.
Abstract: Agricultural and other land uses on ombrotrophic lowland tropical peat swamps typically lead to reduced vegetation biomass and water table drawdown. We review what is known about greenhouse gas (GHG) dynamics in natural and degraded tropical peat systems in south-east Asia, and on this basis consider what can be expected in terms of GHG dynamics under restored conditions. Only limited in situ data are available on the effects of restoration and the consequences for peat carbon (C) dynamics. Hydrological restoration seeks to bring the water table closer to the peat surface and thus re-create near-natural water table conditions, in order to reduce wildfire risk and associated fire impacts on the peat C store, as well as to reduce aerobic peat decomposition rates. However, zero emissions are unlikely to be achieved due to the notable potential for carbon dioxide (CO2) production from anaerobic peat decomposition processes. Increased vegetation cover (ideally woody plants) resulting from restoration will increase shading and reduce peat surface temperatures, and this may in turn reduce aerobic decomposition rates. An increase in litter deposition rate will compensate for C losses by peat decomposition but also increase the supply of labile C, which may prime decomposition, especially in peat enriched with recalcitrant substrates. The response of tropical peatland GHG emissions to peatland restoration will also vary according to previous land use and land use intensity.
Key words: fire, organic carbon, temperature, vegetation cover, water table
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