Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatland

14.05.2008
Peatlands are the most extensive natural wetland ecosystems in South East Asia.

They play an important role in climate regulation. Peatland reclamation for agriculture disrupts this role. UNIMAS is currently working on a sustainable management of the peatlands in Sarawak that would benefit the ecosystem and its dependent communities.

Peatlands are the most extensive natural wetland ecosystems in South East Asia covering some 30 million ha of which 1.7 million ha are found in the coastal lowlands of Sarawak. They are well recognised for their roles as buffers against flood, reservoirs of biodiversity, water extraction; and to the human industry, as provider of timber and non-timber products.

Peatlands are carbon stores. This gives them a role in climate regulation, and thus, global importance in climate change. Socioeconomic needs coupled with limited suitable lands, however, have led to the conversion of peatlands (or peat swamp forests) to other uses, especially for agriculture.

Conversion (or reclamation) of peatland for agriculture uses involve drainage of the waterlogged peatlands. The drainage inevitably leads to surface subsidence; brought about not only by consolidation of peat materials, but also by loss of carbon through carbon dioxide (CO2) emission as the peat air contents increases. The consequence is an immediate negative impact on the environment due to excessive emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases such as nitric oxide.

Surface subsidence also sets a limit to its agricultural life and productivity. As the peat surface eventually subsides to the same level as the natural groundwater table of the surrounding areas, it leads to increased flooding frequency in settlements and agricultural areas on the peatlands. The net effect is a gradual loss of peatlands as evident from the shrinkage of peatland areas in Sabah (86,000 ha in 1989 to 46,000 ha in 1999).

A multidisciplinary research team, head by Prof. Wan Sulaiman Wan Harun is currently working on a sustainable management of tropical peatland research programme: a comprehensive study of the peatlands in Sarawak which covers the ecology and biodiversity of peat swamp forests, as well as characterisation of the peat soils and the sustainable use of the peatlands.

The research looks at the impact of peat swamp forest clearance and drainage for agriculture, and the mitigation of the impacts with particular emphasis on minimisation of surface subsidence to extend its agriculture or agronomic life, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This article highlights four aspects of the programme.

Natural sink for pollutants

The humic substances that made up peatland is a natural sink for pollutants. Here, a study is conducted to determine the chemical characteristics of humic substances in Sarawak's peat, and relate their molecular structural features with pollutant complexing/trapping potentials. Laboratory analyses and comparisons with data from published literatures on humic substances suggest that Sarawak's peat has a strong complexing capability.

Peat subsidence and carbon loss

The agronomic life of peatlands can be sustained/prolonged by adopting a crop mix that will maximise carbon assimilation through rapid vegetative growth, followed by appropriate surface residue management under controlled drainage. An experiment was conducted on a plantation site to explore the possible use of sago palm residues to partially offset or mitigate peat subsidence. And the findings suggest that one strategy to mitigate the impact of peat subsidence and carbon loss is to sustain high crop production levels and retain on site the maximum amount possible of the palm residues.

Large-scale planting on deep peat

Sago has traditionally been grown on mineral soils and shallow peat in a low-input production system. Large-scale (commercial) plantings of sago on deep peat face major production constraints, in particular, palms inability to develop trunks. Studies are currently being conducted to overcome the various production constraints and to gain a comprehensive and deeper understanding of the palm species as an agricultural crop.

Local community livelihood

Almost all the peatlands of Sarawak are located in populated coastal lowland. Management of the peatlands, therefore, need to include how the local communities on and around these peatlands can sustain their livelihood. A case study is being conducted to determine the socio-economic conditions and options for sustaining the livelihood of the communities living on one of the peatland areas. Strategies and recommendations are being formulated to further develop and sustain the livelihood of the local communities to prevent further degradation to the peatlands they inhabit.

Resni Mona | ResearchSEA
Further information:
http://www.unimas.my
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>