Global Wetlands, considers wetlands to be the “unsung heroes” in the fight against climate change. They just penned a white paper that supports the idea that wetlands can be pivotal in achieving global warming targets as well as increasing biodiversity.

“Wetlands store almost a third of global soil carbon, and support 40% of global biodiversity, despite covering just 6% of the earth’s surface. Sadly though, wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests, with 35% of wetland ecosystems lost since 1970.” Wetlands International

Though we are used to our beautiful high elevation wetlands here in the Rockies, wetlands come in many types globally. “Mangrove forests, for example, get less publicity than tropical forests, even though the destruction of mangrove ecosystems results in 10% of total CO2 emissions from deforestation globally.”

A mangrove is a shrub or tree that thrives in tropical or sub-tropical coastal regions enjoying the saline water environment. They are the only tree species according to that can survive in salt water. They don’t like freezing temperatures either which is why they are found mainly in south Florida here in the US.

Researchers estimate the monetary value of the benefits, or “ecosystem services,” provided by mangroves at $194,000 per hectare annually. Multiplied by their global extent, that means the world’s remaining mangroves provide around $2.7 trillion in services every year. “2018”

Peatlands are another ecological wetland powerhouse that occupies only about 3% of the global land area but contain about 25% of the global soil carbon stock—twice the amount found in the world’s forests. These wetlands store older carbon in their peat layer for the long term, and in vegetation for the shorter term. “Pew Charitable Trust”

Ireland, which for a long time, State sponsored harvested peat for electricity, has phased that practice out and is instead rehabilitating these degraded landscapes recognizing their enormous potential for our fight against global warming.

These natural wonders are considered blue carbon sinks. The Blue Carbon Initiative was created to protect mangroves, coastal marshes and other marine eco-systems. The reason is that they estimate that 83% of the global carbon cycle is circulated through the ocean.

These compelling eco-systems vital to the planets health and sustainability should be on all conservationists focus list.

Tom Koehler

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