Risk assessment of tropical peatland carbon pools under different land uses and impacts

J.H.M. Wösten

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


Wösten et al. 2008: Risk assessment of tropical peatland carbon pools


Major risks to carbon pools stored in tropical peatlands are land use changes requiring different drainage regimes and fire. Assessment of these risks is demonstrated for oil palm and sago plantations. The relation between subsidence and water table depth is a crucial equation in this concept and its validity for different peatland regions is discussed. Also fires are a major risk to tropical peatland carbon pools. The occurrence of fires appears to be strongly correlated to prevailing water table depths with evidence that once these depths fall below a critical threshold, fire susceptibility increases dramatically. Adequate water management is the key tool to manage the risks that land use change and fire impose on tropical peatland carbon pools. In this context, effectiveness of dams to restore the hydrological integrity of peatlands is discussed.