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 Treatment of saline wastewater during algae utilization
14.05.2019 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

nachricht Plastic gets a do-over: Breakthrough discovery recycles plastic from the inside out
07.05.2019 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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: New studies increase confidence in NASA's measure of Earth's temperature

A new assessment of NASA's record of global temperatures revealed that the agency's estimate of Earth's long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.

The most complete assessment ever of statistical uncertainty within the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) data product shows that the annual values...

Im Focus: The geometry of an electron determined for the first time

Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.

The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

On Mars, sands shift to a different drum

24.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Piedmont Atlanta first in Georgia to offer new minimally invasive treatment for emphysema

24.05.2019 | Medical Engineering

Chemical juggling with three particles

24.05.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>