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Peatlands in India



  May 06, 2024

Peatlands in India



What are Peatlands?

Peatlands are wetland ecosystems formed by the accumulation of partially decomposed plant remains over thousands of years under water-logged conditions. They are crucial carbon sinks covering only 3% of Earth's surface but containing 30% of the world's soil carbon.

What Causes Peatland Degradation?

Peatland degradation occurs due to activities like drainage, fire, agriculture, and forestry. These activities release the stored carbon, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

Why Are Peatlands Important?

Peatlands are essential in regulating global climate by storing large amounts of carbon, preventing floods, and supporting biodiversity. They also maintain archaeological remains, provide fibers for construction, and support livelihoods through fishing, hunting, and wet agriculture.

How Are Peatlands Monitored and Mapped?

Peatlands are mapped using a mix of satellite and ground-based data to determine their condition and extent. Platforms like SEPAL (System for Earth Observation Data Access, Processing, and Analysis for Land Monitoring) offer tools for mapping and monitoring. Mapping helps prevent further degradation and manage restoration efforts.

What Are the Challenges in Peatland Restoration?

Restoration is challenging for severely degraded peatlands that are hydrophobic and cannot re-wet naturally. Efforts require extensive interventions, particularly in regions like Europe, Central Asia, and South America, where degradation is prevalent.

What Restoration Efforts Exist Globally?

Countries like Indonesia, which contains 40% of tropical peatlands, have implemented platforms like PRIMS to monitor and restore ecosystems. In the Hindukush Himalayan region, restoration projects have been conducted to ensure water security. Globally, initiatives emphasize conservation, re-wetting, and sustainable practices like paludiculture.

How Can Peatland Conservation Help Mitigate Climate Change?

Rewetting peatlands prevents carbon emissions and maintains their role as carbon sinks. Their conservation is vital for achieving the goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

What Should Be Done to Improve Peatland Conservation in India?

India requires further peatland mapping as current estimates suggest peatlands cover only 320-1,000 square kilometers. With low levels of topsoil organic carbon, conservation is necessary to prevent further depletion.

Peatlands in India


They occupy an estimated 320 to 1,000 square kilometers and are primarily located in regions like the Western Ghats, the Himalayas, and the Sundarbans. Despite their relatively small area, these peatlands play a significant role in carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation. However, due to threats like land conversion, drainage, and deforestation, many peatlands in India face degradation. Monitoring and restoring these ecosystems are crucial for preserving their ecological services, including carbon storage, water regulation, and supporting biodiversity. Further mapping and conservation measures are needed to safeguard their future amid increasing environmental challenges.


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