Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Data Analysis Conclusive About Release Of CO2 From Peatland When Natural Swamp Forest Is Converted To Oil Palm Plantation

04.12.2007
Tropical peatlands turn up the heat for the bali cop!

A new data analysis undertaken by Dr. Susan Page of the University of Leicester Department of Geography and colleagues involved in the EU-funded CARBOPEAT and RESTORPEAT projects shows conclusively that large amounts of carbon dioxide are released from peatland in Southeast Asia when it is converted from natural swamp forest to plantations of oil palm or pulpwood trees.

This supports the findings of a recent Greenpeace report on the impact of growing oil palm on tropical peatlands and a feature article on palm oil and pulpwood plantations in this week’s New Scientist.

According to Professor Jack Rieley of the School of Geography, University of Nottingham these new life cycle analysis calculations show that all forms of land use change on tropical peatland lead to massive losses of carbon from the peat store and the transfer of large amounts of CO2e to the atmosphere contributing to climate change processes. The worst land use scenario is degraded peatland. This is peatland that has been deforested and drained but is not currently managed; these degraded peatlands are susceptible to fire in every dry season which leads to large carbon emissions. Plantations of oil palm and acacia trees grown for pulpwood, however, also lose large amounts of carbon (see table) owing to rapid decomposition of the peat carbon store as a result of oxidation caused by deep land drainage.

Natural peat swamp forest acts as a carbon sink accumulating at least 2.6 t ha-1 CO2e yr-1 as a consequence of tree growth and peat accumulation. Peatland under plantation agriculture and degraded peatland are both major carbon sources with oil palm and pulpwood plantations emitting CO2 e in the order of 170 and 280 t ha-1 yr-1, respectively, equivalent to 1,000 and 1,900 t ha-1 yr-1 over the 25 year life cycle.

Since the areas occupied by oil palm plantations on peatland in Malaysia and Indonesia are huge, in the order of 420,000 hectares for the former and 2,800,000 ha for the latter, the combined 25 year life cycle CO2e emissions are enormous and in the region of 3,220 Mt CO2e.

According to Professor Florian Siegert of Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany, who is studying land cover change in Southeast Asia, the large increase in area of oil palm projected to take place in coming years to satisfy the biofuels market will release much more CO2 emissions than the fossil fuel it is supposed to replace (up to 30 times more depending upon management of individual plantations). The emissions associated with palm oil plantations growing on thick tropical peat are particularly massive. In Indonesia it is estimated that producing 1 tonne of palm oil on peatland will cause emissions of between 15 and 70 tonnes of CO2 over the life cycle of 25 years as a result of forest conversion, peat decomposition and emission from fires associated with land clearance. The range of emission values is so large because oil palm fruit harvest can be much lower on nutrient poor and poorly drained peat soils. Peat swamp forests are the only major land area not yet developed in Southeast Asia, but increased demand for palm oil and pulp for paper is already leading to accelerated conversion of peat swamp forests into plantations.

This new assessment of the impact of plantations on CO2e emissions from tropical peatland is very important, especially in view of the upcoming UNFCCC climate change conference that will be held in Bali, Indonesia from this week (4-14 December). Delegates to the Bali COP will discuss proposals to improve international requirements for reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Up until quite recently most attention was focused on GHG emissions from industry and the burning of fossils fuels. There is now an enhanced emphasis on emissions from non-industrial sources, such as deforestation, agricultural practices and, in the case of Southeast Asia, peat swamp reclamation. Various mechanisms to reduce emissions from deforestation have been proposed to UNFCCC and will be discussed during the Bali meeting.

Dr Susan Page said: “Current land use and land practise developments in Southeast Asia give grave cause for concern. While deforestation rates in non-peatland areas are decreasing slightly owing to depletion of forest resources, those on peatlands have been rising for the last 20 years. In 2005, 25% of all deforestation in Southeast Asia was on peatlands owing to demand for land on which to establish plantations. Current UNFCCC negotiations in Bali on reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) could offer a crucial opportunity to reduce carbon emissions from tropical peatlands and thus contribute to combating global climate change.”

Time for action: Dr Page went on to say that “The Government of Indonesia should regard its peatlands as a ‘bank’ because they are worth more as biodiversity and carbon stores than oil palm or pulp tree plantations. As a first step it should rescind ALL concession licenses that have been (and still are being) granted for new plantations on its peatland, especially those granted by the decentralized local governments without carrying out Environmental Impact Assessments. It is clear with current rates of peatland conversion that the Indonesian Government cannot reduce its massive non-industrial CO2 emissions unless it stops plantation and other agricultural and industrial uses of its peatlands, and takes serious measures to protect the natural resource functions of biodiversity, carbon and water stores of the remaining peat swamp forests”.

Ather Mirza | alfa
Further information:
http://www.carbopeat.org
http://www.le.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Rethinking the science of plastic recycling
24.10.2019 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht Sinking groundwater levels threaten the vitality of riverine ecosystems
04.10.2019 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

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 Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

Im Focus: A Memory Effect at Single-Atom Level

An international research group has observed new quantum properties on an artificial giant atom and has now published its results in the high-ranking journal Nature Physics. The quantum system under investigation apparently has a memory - a new finding that could be used to build a quantum computer.

The research group, consisting of German, Swedish and Indian scientists, has investigated an artificial quantum system and found new properties.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

Smart lasers open up new applications and are the “tool of choice” in digitalization

30.10.2019 | Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small RNAs link immune system and brain cells

13.11.2019 | Life Sciences

New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

13.11.2019 | Materials Sciences

Magnets for the second dimension

12.11.2019 | Machine Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>