Would you spend your holiday exploring peatlands?
Names like bogs, peatland, fens, and marshes are waterlogged landscapes that have been ignored for years. Ignored and dug up and drained. Parts of peatlands have been planted with Christmas trees in attempts to not only earn money but also to make the place more beautiful.
Images of tropical rainforests are often promoted when you search for pictures related to climate change. And saving these brightly coloured places brimming with biodiversity makes sense. Yet, we will not slow down climate change and reach climate change and sustainability goals unless we broaden our understanding of the natural world and our ideas of what is important to save.
Some naturalists argue that instead of focusing the attention more or less entirely on planting trees and reforestation, a better solution to slow climate changes might be in protecting and restoring peatlands that we have spent centuries draining and destroying. Peat is formed by the accumulation of decayed vegetation. Peatlands are impressive carbon sinks – they cover around 3 percent of our plant’s land surface, yet, they hold one-fifth of all soil carbon on our planet.
A serious problem is that damaged peatlands are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, annually releasing almost 6% of global CO2 emissions. The exploitation of peatland releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that has been stored for thousands of years. The industrial revolution is often considered the starting point of the changes to our climate that we are experiencing now. However, peat diggers have influenced the global climate even before the industrial revolution. Peat was used to heating houses and building materials. The last century peat has been harvested on an industrial scale for compost used by gardeners.
During the medieval time, lack of knowledge about the importance of peatlands could be used as an excuse but fundamentally it is our view that we can use nature that is the problem. We regard nature as something that is there to provide us with natural resources and raw materials.
Today, it is important to look at not only what we need to save and how but also ensure that we do continue to carry out the same mistakes. As we look for alternative solutions, we need to think about what can we do locally as well as globally. We need to protect and restore colorful and beautiful places as well as bleaker places.
Featured Photo By Mike Pennington, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3533004