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When we talk about carbon stocks, we often talk about forests. At the same time, often-overlooked peatlands represent one of the largest stores of carbon on the planet. The Global Peatlands Initiative’s (GPI) 3rd Meeting of Partners, gathered more than 300 participants from all over the world to put peatlands back on the climate change agenda. Twenty four partners, including three countries, discussed the crucial role that robust monitoring systems and appropriate policies play in improving the overall management of peatland landscapes. After two days of intensive high-level meetings and discussions, the governments of the three most peat-rich countries in the world – the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia – signed a declaration aimed at protection and sustainable management of this valuable resource, better known as the Brazzaville Declaration.

 

event picture1The Brazzaville Declaration

The highlight of the meeting was the signing of the Brazzaville Declaration. Signed by the governments of the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia, the declaration aims to highlight the countries’ commitment to sharing knowledge, experiences and tools to help the peat-rich developing countries in protecting their valuable peatlands.

The FAO Representative, Ms Suze Percy Filippini, who moderated the Ministerial Dialogue highlighted that without dedication to participative and federative approach that the countries have taken, it would be impossible to manage such complex landscapes as those of peatlands, in the long term. “Luckily,” she added, “we have good models how to collaborate – even across national borders.”

This commitment is an important step towards international and cross-sectoral coordination in landscape-level land use planning and harmonization of policies that are essential for ensuring that peatlands are managed sustainably, and social, economic and environmental objectives are met.

Together with 24 partners of  the Global Peatlands Initiative, FAO continues to support countries in advancing sustainable peatland management and to work with partners and different frameworks, such as the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation)Global Soil Partnership; the Land degradation neutrality framework; and Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration.

 

CIFOR peatlands

Why peatlands?

Few people know that peatlands, covering only 3 percent of the land surface, contain 30 percent of the world’s organic soil carbon. This special type of wetlands are home to diverse flora and fauna and provide essential ecosystems services that support local livelihoods. However, peatlands are often drained for agriculture, forestry and energy use, sometimes involving burning for clearing the ground. The deforestation or degradation of forest cover on peatlands creates a double hit for carbon emissions, with losses from both standing tree biomass as well as from the drying and degradation of peat soils. Such changes also have implications for biodiversity and livelihoods of local communities, including fishing and hunting.  

Focused on the topic “Valuing peatlands for people and planet”, the GPI’s 3rd Meeting of the Partners was organized by the Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism of the Republic of the Congo, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and UN Environment, in partnership with the Congo Basin Climate Commission and technical support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Held on 21-22 March 2018 in Brazzaville, the meeting gathered Global Peatlands Initiative’s members from forest and tropical peat countries, as well as multilateral and non-governmental organisations to share experiences and lessons learned in approaching monitoring and sustainable management of peatland.

The first day of the meeting started with H.E. Arlette Soudan-Nonault, the Minister of Tourism and Environment of Republic of the Congo, and H.E. Amy Ambatobe Nyongolo, the Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, welcoming GPI partners and emphasizing the important role peatlands play in the sustainable development and climate change mitigation efforts of the Congo Basin countries. The participants reviewed the current state of peatlands in the region and globally, looked at potential financial instruments to ensure their sustainable management and shared data, tools and approaches for assessing the existence and extent of peatlands and tools and best practice approaches for their monitoring.

Monitoring peatlands is essential to better understanding peatlands’ location, extent, status, and to provide information that can be used to assess progress and guide management approaches to ensure long-term success”, says Julian Fox, FAO Forestry Officer leading the National Forest Monitoring Team. “There is an urgent need for innovative peatland monitoring systems, and FAO is well equipped to support countries in their monitoring initiatives.”

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