Alpine Wetlands Restoration and Climate Change

Makomoreng Fanana

Proceedings of the 14th International Peat Congress


alpine, carbon, climate-change, restoration, wetland

Fanana 2012: Alpine Wetlands Restoration and Climate Change


Theme V. Restoration, rehabilitation and after-use of disturbed peatlands


Lesotho’s alpine wetlands are rare ecological features in Southern Africa. Their unique combination of peat-forming soil types and vegetation communities makes them worthy of international recognition.

Alpine wetlands are known to accumulate carbon through peat deposits. Wetlands play a significant role in carbon storage globally, containing a disproportionately high proportion of the world’s carbon with respect to their proportional land coverage. Peatlands both emit and capture carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and the balance of these processes depends on peatland condition. In this way they regulate climate.

Alpine wetlands in Lesotho are in a poor condition. Their degradation status can be attributed to two main factors; the climate which has become drier over the years and overgrazing and trampling by livestock. Restored peatlands generally have less of an impact on global warming than degraded peatlands. Thus, restoration is generally beneficial from a global warming point of view.