Turberas del Congo y Cambio Climático (El problema de la carencia de los inventarios de suelos)

 turberas-del-congo

Turberas del Congo, sus pueblos aborígenes y testigo de su abundancia en materia orgánica. Fuente Google Imágenes

La primera noticia de la que vamos a hablar hoy lleva por título (traducido del suajili): “Los pantanos de turba de la cuenca del Congo son un nuevo frente en la batalla del cambio climático. Ya nos quedamos horrorizados cuando saltó la noticia a la prensa mundial hace casi “diez años”. Los bosques pantanosos tropicales estaban siendo desmontados, sin previo análisis, con vistas a obtener aceite de palma. Inmediatamente redactamos un post vaticinando lo que ocurriría. Y efectivamente ocurrió, ya que, por lógica, no podía preverse otro final: ¡catastrófico!. Ahora se nos informa que han descubierto una enorme extensión del mismo tipo, es decir de formaciones vegetales y suelos en el Congo. Vista la tragedia precedente, tanto científicos como ecologistas y los propios pueblos aborígenes que allí habitan sustentablemente, intentan evitar que volvamos a deteriorar el medio ambiente, perder una biodiversidad inexplorada y sobre todo, emitir enormes cantidades de CO2 a la atmósfera. Y el gobierno del país afectado se defiende alegando que debe compaginarse desarrollo y respeto a la naturaleza. Desde luego, lo que puede suceder, resulta ser la antítesis de cualquier medida que intente conciliar el desarrollo económico actual y la salud de la biosfera. Abajo os ofrezco abundante información y numerosas cifras que avalan la magnitud del sumidero/emisor de este maravilloso universo inexplorado. ¡No dejéis de mirarlas, ya que son tremendas!.

¿Podía haberse evitado? ¡Por supuesto que sí!, ya que hasta en los manuales de la FAO, publicados hace décadas, se detalla lo que sucede al drenar turberas, es decir esos suelos a los que llamamos Histosoles, cuyo uso y manejo pertinentes, son bien conocidos.

¿Podía haberse conocido su extensión? ¡Por supuesto que sí!, ya que bastaba con hacer reactualizado debidamente un mapa mundial de suelos muy grosero en su escala y caduco en el tiempo.

¿Por qué no se estimó su extensión y medidas adecuadas de uso/preservación?. Simplemente debido a que para los políticos desembolsar dinero en estos menesteres no les resulta rentable desde el punto de vista mediático/manipulador de las masas que les votan. ¿Y en que se utiliza tal financiación?. Simplemente en proyectos de investigación en la que los expertos nos informan regocijados, simulación tras simulación numérica, lo que puede suceder si sus premisas son acertadas.

¿Acertaron a vislumbrar los “expertos” tal laguna de información? ¡Por supuesto que no!. Los inventarios son realidades aproximadas, mientras que los modelitos numérico, tan solo conjeturas, si no se corroboran con precisión en el campo. ¿Y cómo se corroboran?. Simplemente inventariando (cartografías y bases de datos georreferenciadas) los recursos afectados. Y mientras tanto: ¿qué hacen actualmente los edafólogos expertos que realizaban  tales relevamientos cartográficos?: volverse viejos y/o obligados a abandonar su especialidad, cuando no han pasado ya al limbo de los justos. ¿Pero no hay jóvenes que les remplacen?.  Pocos ya que las ciencias del suelo tampoco son sexys para los gestores de política científica. Eso sí, el escaso número que se incorporan a las plantillas de investigadores y tecnólogos, se adiestra más en como extraer información de imágenes satelitales y obtener otra adicional a partir de datos antiguos, haciendo uso de técnicas matemáticas en su aprendizaje, con vistas mejorar la comprensión de una “realidad campo” que generalmente desconocen. ¿Y qué son estas últimas?. Pues más modelitos numéricos, que arrastran gran cantidad de incertidumbres, por ser escasamente corroborados en el ¡¡¡¡campoooo!!!!. Por ello, su adestramiento en labores sobre el terreno deja mucho que desear, salvo contadísimas ocasiones. ¿Y por qué?. Si no lo hicieran así, no publicarían en revistas de prestigio, por lo que sus carreras devendrían truncadas desde el inicio.

¿Y cómo puede arreglare esta lamentable y patética situación?. Sencillamente utilizando el sentido común, el menos común de los sentidos. Y así la pescadilla se muerde la cola, todo sigue igual. Seguimos pues con paso firme y seguro hacia el precipicio.

Reitero que abajo os muestro las cifras, así como un panorama relativamente detallado de lo que está sucediendo, aunque solo he traducido lo más relevante del suajili al español castellano. ¡Impresionante!. ¡Impresentable!

Juan José Ibáñez

Continúa……..

 Post Previos redactados sobre el tema

Cambio climático, Multinacionales y Fraude Científico (enero 2014)

Tierras Marginales y Biocombustibles de Segunda Generación: Otra Gran Mentira (junio de 2008)

¿Biodiversidad o Cambio Climático?: ¿Dos Convenciones Incompatibles?: Las Especies Invasivas (2008)

Agroenergética: Deterioro de los Suelos y Degradación del Medio Ambiente (Biocombustibles) (2010)

Histosoles (Turberas): Geografía, Ambiente y Paisaje

Histosoles en Latinoamérica Tropical

¿Desastres Naturales, Catástrofes Ecológicas y Degradación Antrópica? (mayo de 2016).

 

 Congo basin’s peaty swamps are new front in climate change battle

Los pantanos de turba de la cuenca del Congo son un nuevo frente en la batalla del cambio climático

Ancient peatlands that store huge amounts of carbon are under threat from logging

John Vidal

Sunday 12 November 2017 00.05 GMT

Stumbling on submerged roots, attacked by bees and wading waist-deep through leech-infested water, the three researchers and their Pygmy guides progress at just 100 metres an hour through the largest and least-explored tropical bog in the world.

The group halt and unpack what looks like a spear, which is plunged over and over again into the waterlogged forest floor. Each time it brings up a metre-long core of rich, black peat made up of partly decomposed leaves and ancient plantlife. The deepest the steel blade reaches before meeting the underlying clay is 3.7 metres.

Tropezando en las raíces sumergidas, atacados por las abejas y chapoteando hasta la cintura a través de agua infestada de sanguijuelas, los tres investigadores y sus guías pigmeos avanzan a solo 100 metros por hora a través del pantano tropical más grande y menos explorado del mundo.

El grupo se detiene y desempaqueta lo que parece una lanza, que se sumerge una y otra vez en el suelo anegado del bosque. Cada vez trae a colación un núcleo de un metro de rica y negra turba compuesta de hojas parcialmente descompuestas y plantas antiguas. Lo más profundo que alcanza la hoja de acero antes de encontrarse con la arcilla subyacente es de 3.7 metros.

Leeds University forest ecologists Simon Lewis and Greta Dargie cheer. The peat bed below the tangle of trees and water in the geographical heart of Africa is much deeper than they expected; and because peat stores carbon and slows global warming, their new research conducted last week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)will be welcome news for the 194 countries meeting in Bonn for the annual UN climate conference.

Lewis and Dargie surprised the world earlier this year when they showed that the peatlands on either side of the Congo river contained one third of all the world’s tropical peat and were five times more extensive than anyone had thought, stretching over 145,500 sq km (56,000 sq miles), an area larger than England.

Since 2012, the two researchers have spent months at a time wading through bogs and sleeping on makeshift platforms built above the crocodile-infested swamp forests in the Cuvette central region of the neighbouring Republic of the Congo. “We would see elephant feet and gorilla hands imprinted in the peat. We were increasingly in awe that a remote, almost unknown, wilderness such as this could still be found on Earth today,” said Lewis.

Ecólogos forestales de la Universidad de Leeds Simon Lewis y Greta Dargie animan. El lecho de turba debajo de la maraña de árboles y agua en el corazón geográfico de África es mucho más profundo de lo que esperaban; y porque la turba almacena carbono y ralentiza el calentamiento global, su nueva investigación realizada la semana pasada en la República Democrática del Congo (RDC) será una buena noticia para los 194 países reunidos en Bonn para la conferencia anual sobre el clima de la ONU.

Lewis y Dargie sorprendieron al mundo a principios de este año cuando demostraron que las turberas a ambos lados del río Congo contenían un tercio de toda la turba tropical del mundo y eran cinco veces más extensas de lo que nadie había pensado, con más de 145.500 km cuadrados (56.000 m² millas), un área más grande que Inglaterra.

Desde 2012, los dos investigadores han pasado meses a la vez vadeando turberas y durmiendo en plataformas improvisadas construidas sobre los bosques pantanosos infestados de cocodrilos en la región central de Cuvette, en la vecina República del Congo. “Veíamos pies de elefante y manos de gorila impresas en la turba. Estábamos cada vez más asombrados de que un desierto remoto, casi desconocido, como este todavía se pudiera encontrar hoy en la Tierra “, dijo Lewis.

Working mainly in the dry season, they took more than 500 peat samples, and calculated that the central African peatlands hold 30.6 billion tonnes of carbon accumulated over 10,000 years – the equivalent to three years of the world’s fossil fuel emissions. This would make them one of the world’s most important carbon “sinks”, they said.

But their new exploratory research, conducted with the Congolese botanist Corneille Ewango, 50km from Mbandaka in DRC, suggests that central Africa’s inaccessible forest swamps could be even more important as a global carbon storehouse than they thought, and could need a global initiative to research and protect them.

Trabajando principalmente en la estación seca, tomaron más de 500 muestras de turba y calcularon que las turberas del centro de África contienen 30.600 millones de toneladas de carbono acumuladas durante 10.000 años, el equivalente a tres años de las emisiones mundiales de combustibles fósiles. Esto los convertiría en uno de los “sumideros” de carbono más importantes del mundo, dijeron.

Pero su nueva investigación exploratoria, realizada con el botánico congoleño Corneille Ewango, a 50 km de Mbandaka en la República Democrática del Congo, sugiere que los pantanos forestales inaccesibles del centro de África podrían ser incluso más importantes como depósito mundial de carbono de lo que pensaban, y podría necesitar una iniciativa mundial para investigar y Protegelos.

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Campaigners from Greenpeace and the local community of Lokolama are fighting to preserve the precious carbon stores. Photograph: Kevin McElvaney/Greenpeace

“While the extent of the peat is known, its depth is not. There is just no data. We are a long way from really knowing how much is there and need to do more research,” said Dargie.

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“Maintaining these large stores of carbon must be a global priority. Only with strong scientific data on the peatland, and how it behaves or might react to future changes, can governments establish baselines and protections in international agreements to ensure it is preserved,” said Greenpeace forest campaigner Matt Daggett.

There is growing understanding that the fate of carbon sinks like the Congo basin peatlands will determine future climate change. If left alone, they are vital collectors of CO2; but if the forests above them are felled and the land is converted to farming, as has been widely practised for the past 30 years in south-east Asia, then the dried-out peat emits vast quantities of CO2 and intensifies climate change.

Tropical peatland stores around 2,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare but this has been barely recognised by governments which have continued to promote intensive farming on peatlands.

The draining of south-east Asia’s peat swamps and the felling of its trees has been a climate disaster, say scientists. Two months of intense peat fires started in August 2015 to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia released an estimated 884m tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than the European Union in its entirety emitted that year.

Existe una creciente comprensión de que el destino de los sumideros de carbono como las turberas de la cuenca del Congo determinará el cambio climático futuro. Si se los deja solos, son sumideros vitales de CO2; pero si los bosques que están sobre ellos se talan y la tierra se convierte en cultivo, como se ha practicado ampliamente en los últimos 30 años en el sudeste de Asia, la turba seca emite grandes cantidades de CO2 e intensifica el cambio climático.

Las turberas tropicales almacenan alrededor de 2.000 toneladas de carbono por hectárea, pero esto apenas ha sido reconocido por los gobiernos que han seguido promoviendo la agricultura intensiva en turberas.

El drenaje de los pantanos de turba del sudeste asiático y la tala de sus árboles ha sido un desastre climático, dicen los científicos. Dos meses de intensos incendios de turba comenzaron en agosto de 2015 para limpiar las tierras de aceite de palma y plantaciones de pulpa y papel en Indonesia liberaron 884 millones de toneladas de dióxido de carbono, más de lo que la Unión Europea en su totalidad emitió ese año.

The Congo basin forest, the second largest in the world after the Amazon, has been relatively protected by its inaccessibility, but environmentalists say it is highly vulnerable and its peat could easily be destroyed. Pressure is building, they say, from logging companies and European governments to lift a 15-year-old moratorium on the allocation of new industrial logging concessions.

Logging on swamplands is prohibited in the DRC but, says the Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK), Congolese legislation does not precisely define what constitutes a swamp. Its analysis suggests 3.4bn tonnes of carbon could be emitted if the concessions become active.

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According to Greenpeace, nearly half of the DRC’s current logging concessions are in breach of the law because their permissions have run out and they do not have approved management plans. These concessions overlap around 10,000 sq km of peat swampland.

“If this forest is cut, there will be decomposition of the peat and vast quantities of CO2 will be released into the atmosphere, said Dagett.

The Congolese government, which has welcomed the scientists, is cautious about further protection. “There must be a balance between the forests and development. It comes down to money,” said Joseph Katenga, forest adviser to Amy Ambatobe, the minister for the environment and sustainable development.

But communities living close to the carbon-rich swamps near Lokolama have welcomed the discovery of peat, hoping it would attract money to better protect their forests which they traditionally use for fishing and hunting.

Según Greenpeace, casi la mitad de las concesiones actuales de explotación forestal de la República Democrática del Congo infringen la ley porque sus permisos se han agotado y no cuentan con planes de gestión aprobados. Estas concesiones se superponen alrededor de 10.000 km2 de pantanos pantanosos.

“Si se corta este bosque, habrá descomposición de la turba y se liberarán grandes cantidades de CO2 a la atmósfera”, dijo Dagett.

El gobierno congoleño, que ha dado la bienvenida a los científicos, es cauteloso sobre la protección adicional. “Debe haber un equilibrio entre los bosques y el desarrollo. Todo se reduce al dinero “, dijo Joseph Katenga, asesor forestal de Amy Ambatobe, ministra para el medioambiente y el desarrollo sostenible.

Pero las comunidades que viven cerca de los pantanos ricos en carbono cerca de Lokolama han acogido con satisfacción el descubrimiento de la turba, con la esperanza de que atraiga dinero para proteger mejor sus bosques, que tradicionalmente utilizan para la pesca y la caza.

“As indigenous people, peatlands are part of our heritage and their discovery for the world to see represents a great hope for future generations,” said Valentin Egobo, who speaks for the Lokolama community.

Como pueblos indígenas, las turberas son parte de nuestro patrimonio y su descubrimiento para que el mundo lo vea representa una gran esperanza para las generaciones futuras “, dijo Valentin Egobo, que habla en nombre de la comunidad de Lokolama.

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Researchers have been gathering data in the area since 2012. Photograph: Kevin McElvaney/Greenpeace

“We hope our government will support us in our role as guardians of this ancient forest and provide us with the needed support to safeguard peatlands for our children and for the world.

“We did not know the peat was there. This is very important for us but we also need development. Our schools are dilapidated. We are marginalised and impoverished,” Egobo added.

The future of the DRC rainforest may be determined next month when the Norwegian government is expected to decide whether to fund a French Development Agency plan to expand “sustainable” industrial logging in the region. This would allow local communities to benefit from their resources, according to the agency.

But Greenpeace, RFUK and a petition signed by 135,000 people in Norway and the UK have condemned the plan. “Norway risks putting globally significant stores of carbon at risk through misguided support for so-called sustainable forest management in DRC. Instead of expanding large-scale timber-felling, Norway should work with the Congolese government to shut down the half of the country’s logging areas which the law requires to be closed and returned to the state,”, said Simon Counsell, the director of the RFUK.

The need to protect the forests above the peatlands was emphasised last week by a major report showing that there is 40% more carbon stored in forested lands than in known fossil-fuel deposits worldwide.

“Releasing this carbon into the atmosphere through continuing deforestation not only commits us to the worst impacts of climate change, but also results in the loss of a globally important carbon sink.

“Protecting the carbon stored in forests is no different than taking action to ensure fossil deposits like coal stay underground,” said the report’s lead author, Martin Herold of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

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Could the peatlands of Congo be a carbon bomb?

By Junior D KANNAH, Samir TOUNSI
Mbandaka, Dr Congo (AFP) Nov 8, 2017

Gruelling talks are unfolding in Bonn for implementing the UN’s Paris Agreement on climate change, but many kilometres (miles) away, there are fears that any progress may be wiped out by a lurking carbon threat.

Scientists and green campaigners say central Africa’s peatlands hold gigatonnes of carbon — a stockpile that poses a grave threat to hopes of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The product of vegetation decay that occurred aeons ago, the carbon has been safely locked in the soil for thousands of years, but risks being unstoppered by farming, they say.

Released into the air, the gas could add dramatically to greenhouse-gas emissions caused by fossil fuels.

“We have a map of the central Congo peatland we published for the first time this year, which shows that they cover around 145,000 square kilometres (56,000 square miles), an area a bit bigger than the size of England,” said Simon Lewis, a scientist from Britain’s University of Leeds, on a soil-sampling mission to remote northwest DR Congo.

We think it stores about 30 billion tonnes of carbon. That’s as much carbon as the emissions from fossil fuels, all the emissions from humanity globally for three years.”

- Vicious circle -

For nearly two decades, climate scientists have warned of the threat of so-called positive feedbacks — a vicious circle of global warming.

Fears have focused primarily on the potent greenhouse gas methane seeping from thawing Arctic permafrost.

These emissions would add significantly to warming, which would thaw more permafrost — and which in turn would release more greenhouse gas to stoke global temperatures, and so on.

But the dark, swampy peatlands of the tropics are now also a major area of concern.

This has made draining the soil for farming and slash-and-burn agriculture big climate threats.

In 2015, the World Resources Institute (WRI) calculated that fires in Southeast Asia, where much land has been converted for palm oil and other products, spewed more greenhouse gases into the air than all US economic activity in 26 out of 44 monitored days.

The fires are also to blame for choking smoke, shrouding parts of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

The Congo basin is exceptionally rich in peat — about two metres (6.5 feet) thick, according to a study published in the science journal Nature in January by Lewis and colleagues.

So far, the peat remains largely undisturbed. Campaign groups are desperate for it to remain so, and for the forests which suck carbon dioxide from the air to be preserved.

“The Congo basin rainforest is the second largest in the world,” said Matt Daggett, Greenpeace’s global campaign leader.

“We have known for many years that it is critical for the biodiversity of animals and plants. With this discovery we have also learnt that it is critical for the climate.”

- The people question -

But then the question arises: what should be done for people who live there?

Campaign groups say there is absolutely no question of expelling forest people — in fact, people who live in the forest and depend on it are likely to be keener to conserve it, they argue.

That thinking makes sense to villagers in remote Lokolama, who live from hunting, fishing and subsistence farming.

But, says Valentin Ingubo, a man in his fifties who represents the native peoples of Lokolama, they are also trapped in extreme poverty, and this “puts pressure on the forest”.

“Instead of creating activities which generate income and give the forest a bit of a rest, we destroy the forest to get the things we need to survive,” he said in Lingala, one of DR Congo’s four national languages.

Last month, researchers reporting in the peer-reviewed US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said smarter land use could help to meet the target of two degrees Celsius.

Planting more trees, farming more sustainably and conserving wetlands and peatlands could slash carbon dioxide emissions by more than a third — 37 percent — the researchers estimated.

Money, though, is the key.

Congolese officials seized on the Greenpeace trip and the Bonn talks to appeal for funds for sustainable conservation which would limit forest loss.

“DRC’s efforts to protect the forests are not being sufficiently rewarded by international solidarity,” said Joseph Katenga, an advisor at the environment ministry.

“The state does not have the means.”

Congo Basin experts from the UK and DRC take samples from the peatland. Photograph: Kevin McElvaney/Greenpeace

Deforestation

The Observer

Congo basin’s peaty swamps are new front in climate change battle

Ancient peatlands that store huge amounts of carbon are under threat from logging

John Vidal

Sunday 12 November 2017 00.05 GMT

Stumbling on submerged roots, attacked by bees and wading waist-deep through leech-infested water, the three researchers and their Pygmy guides progress at just 100 metres an hour through the largest and least-explored tropical bog in the world.

Tropezando en las raíces sumergidas, atacados por las abejas y chapoteando hasta la cintura a través de agua infestada de sanguijuelas, los tres investigadores y sus guías pigmeos avanzan a solo 100 metros por hora a través del pantano tropical más grande y menos explorado del mundo.

The group halt and unpack what looks like a spear, which is plunged over and over again into the waterlogged forest floor. Each time it brings up a metre-long core of rich, black peat made up of partly decomposed leaves and ancient plantlife. The deepest the steel blade reaches before meeting the underlying clay is 3.7 metres.

Leeds University forest ecologists Simon Lewis and Greta Dargie cheer. The peat bed below the tangle of trees and water in the geographical heart of Africa is much deeper than they expected; and because peat stores carbon and slows global warming, their new research conducted last week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)will be welcome news for the 194 countries meeting in Bonn for the annual UN climate conference.

Lewis and Dargie surprised the world earlier this year when they showed that the peatlands on either side of the Congo river contained one third of all the world’s tropical peat and were five times more extensive than anyone had thought, stretching over 145,500 sq km (56,000 sq miles), an area larger than England.

Since 2012, the two researchers have spent months at a time wading through bogs and sleeping on makeshift platforms built above the crocodile-infested swamp forests in the Cuvette central region of the neighbouring Republic of the Congo. “We would see elephant feet and gorilla hands imprinted in the peat. We were increasingly in awe that a remote, almost unknown, wilderness such as this could still be found on Earth today,” said Lewis.

Working mainly in the dry season, they took more than 500 peat samples, and calculated that the central African peatlands hold 30.6 billion tonnes of carbon accumulated over 10,000 years – the equivalent to three years of the world’s fossil fuel emissions. This would make them one of the world’s most important carbon “sinks”, they said.

But their new exploratory research, conducted with the Congolese botanist Corneille Ewango, 50km from Mbandaka in DRC, suggests that central Africa’s inaccessible forest swamps could be even more important as a global carbon storehouse than they thought, and could need a global initiative to research and protect them.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest

Campaigners from Greenpeace and the local community of Lokolama are fighting to preserve the precious carbon stores. Photograph: Kevin McElvaney/Greenpeace

“While the extent of the peat is known, its depth is not. There is just no data. We are a long way from really knowing how much is there and need to do more research,” said Dargie.

Advertisement

“Maintaining these large stores of carbon must be a global priority. Only with strong scientific data on the peatland, and how it behaves or might react to future changes, can governments establish baselines and protections in international agreements to ensure it is preserved,” said Greenpeace forest campaigner Matt Daggett.

There is growing understanding that the fate of carbon sinks like the Congo basin peatlands will determine future climate change. If left alone, they are vital collectors of CO2; but if the forests above them are felled and the land is converted to farming, as has been widely practised for the past 30 years in south-east Asia, then the dried-out peat emits vast quantities of CO2 and intensifies climate change.

Tropical peatland stores around 2,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare but this has been barely recognised by governments which have continued to promote intensive farming on peatlands.

The draining of south-east Asia’s peat swamps and the felling of its trees has been a climate disaster, say scientists. Two months of intense peat fires started in August 2015 to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia released an estimated 884m tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than the European Union in its entirety emitted that year.

The Congo basin forest, the second largest in the world after the Amazon, has been relatively protected by its inaccessibility, but environmentalists say it is highly vulnerable and its peat could easily be destroyed. Pressure is building, they say, from logging companies and European governments to lift a 15-year-old moratorium on the allocation of new industrial logging concessions.

Logging on swamplands is prohibited in the DRC but, says the Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK), Congolese legislation does not precisely define what constitutes a swamp. Its analysis suggests 3.4bn tonnes of carbon could be emitted if the concessions become active.

Advertisement

According to Greenpeace, nearly half of the DRC’s current logging concessions are in breach of the law because their permissions have run out and they do not have approved management plans. These concessions overlap around 10,000 sq km of peat swampland.

“If this forest is cut, there will be decomposition of the peat and vast quantities of CO2 will be released into the atmosphere, said Dagett.

The Congolese government, which has welcomed the scientists, is cautious about further protection. “There must be a balance between the forests and development. It comes down to money,” said Joseph Katenga, forest adviser to Amy Ambatobe, the minister for the environment and sustainable development.

But communities living close to the carbon-rich swamps near Lokolama have welcomed the discovery of peat, hoping it would attract money to better protect their forests which they traditionally use for fishing and hunting.

“As indigenous people, peatlands are part of our heritage and their discovery for the world to see represents a great hope for future generations,” said Valentin Egobo, who speaks for the Lokolama community.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest

Researchers have been gathering data in the area since 2012. Photograph: Kevin McElvaney/Greenpeace

“We hope our government will support us in our role as guardians of this ancient forest and provide us with the needed support to safeguard peatlands for our children and for the world.

“We did not know the peat was there. This is very important for us but we also need development. Our schools are dilapidated. We are marginalised and impoverished,” Egobo added.

The future of the DRC rainforest may be determined next month when the Norwegian government is expected to decide whether to fund a French Development Agency plan to expand “sustainable” industrial logging in the region. This would allow local communities to benefit from their resources, according to the agency.

But Greenpeace, RFUK and a petition signed by 135,000 people in Norway and the UK have condemned the plan. “Norway risks putting globally significant stores of carbon at risk through misguided support for so-called sustainable forest management in DRC. Instead of expanding large-scale timber-felling, Norway should work with the Congolese government to shut down the half of the country’s logging areas which the law requires to be closed and returned to the state,”, said Simon Counsell, the director of the RFUK.

The need to protect the forests above the peatlands was emphasised last week by a major report showing that there is 40% more carbon stored in forested lands than in known fossil-fuel deposits worldwide.

“Releasing this carbon into the atmosphere through continuing deforestation not only commits us to the worst impacts of climate change, but also results in the loss of a globally important carbon sink.

“Protecting the carbon stored in forests is no different than taking action to ensure fossil deposits like coal stay underground,” said the report’s lead author, Martin Herold of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Since you’re here …

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Muy fan de este blog. Enhorabuena por el artículo, muy interesante.

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