Extent, significance and vulnerability of the tropical peatland carbon pool: past, present and future prospects

S.E. Page, C.J. Banks, J.O. Rieley and R. Wüst

After Wise Use – The Future of Peatlands, Proceedings of the 13th International Peat Congress: Tropical Peatlands

carbon-accumulation, carbon-pool, carbon-source, extent, tropical-peatland

Page et al. 2008: Extent, significance and vulnerability of the tropical peatland


Data analysis indicates tropical peatlands have a current area of ~400,000 km2, mostly located in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, with a conservative estimate of the carbon store in South-east Asia alone of ~52 Gt, i.e. ~10-26% of the global peat carbon store. This carbon pool has accumulated over millennial timescales but is at high risk of destabilisation from land-use change activities that convert a carbon sink to a carbon source, with positive feedbacks to climate warming. This paper argues improved understanding of the spatial extent and magnitude of this carbon store is essential given current interest in greenhouse gas emissions from developed and degraded peatlands and the role that tropical peatlands could play in carbon offset and trading agreements.