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 Surface clean-up technology won't solve ocean plastic problem
04.08.2020 | University of Exeter

nachricht Improving the monitoring of ship emissions
03.08.2020 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

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: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>