The Nordic Council of Ministers for the Environment made a joint statement on the importance of peatlands in preserving biodiversity and limiting human-induced climate change. The statement underlined the importance of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands as a global framework to spur national action and regional and international cooperation to protect and restore peatlands.
Peatlands are the world’s greatest storehouse of carbon – they cover only 3% of the earth’s surface, yet they contain more carbon than all the world’s forests. However as peatlands are currently little understood, in many places they are earmarked to be excavated, drained and destroyed, often for agriculture. In doing this, huge amounts of carbon are added to the atmosphere each year. While all countries contain some areas of peatland, they are most concentrated in the northern countries clustered around the Arctic Circle.
On 27 April 2015, the Nordic Council of Ministers for the Environment made a joint Statement on the importance of peatlands in mitigating climate change (see the statement here). This statement will be taken to the climate summit in Paris in December 2015.
The Nordic Ministers also underlined the importance of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands as a global framework to preserve and restore peatlands. A draft Resolution on “Peatlands, climate change and wise use: implications for the Ramsar Convention” has been submitted by the Nordic countries to the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP12), to be held 1-9 June in Uruguay. Peatlands will also to be the topic of a side-event taking place on 3 June during COP12.
Ms. Doina Catrinoiu of Romania, the Chair of the Ramsar Convention’s Standing Committee, responded to the Nordic Ministers’ Statement saying, “The loss and degradation of peatlands worldwide is an issue of great concern to the Ramsar Convention. Fortunately, peatlands can be restored to once again store carbon, rather than emit it, by raising the water level back to historic levels, or “re-wetting”. As many peatlands contain iconic species of plants, animals and birds, a number of these areas have also been conserved by designating them as Wetland Sites of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.”
The Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, Dr Christopher Briggs, said: “I welcome the Nordic Ministers’ Statement to COP12 on behalf of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. In view of the importance of peatlands to the world’s climate system, I therefore request all the Ramsar Contracting Parties to take note of the Statement as well as the draft Resolution on peatlands to be discussed at COP12 in Uruguay, 1-9 June”.
Further technical information is contained in this document “Peatlands, climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation” which was prepared by the Ramsar Regional Initiative NorBalWet for the information of the Nordic Council of Ministers for the Environment and published following their Statement.
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