Nature-based solutions require landscape-level interventions such as ecosystem protection and restoration; or other forms of active management for natural, semi-natural, or created ecosystems.
Many tropical peatland ecosystems form as peat domes between two rivers in which the peat layer is shallowest closer to the rivers and deepest at the midpoint between the rivers. Due to the water-retentive nature of peat in an intact tropical peat swamp forest, the water table rarely drops more than 40 cm below the surface under historically normal conditions. The peat depth varies greatly across locations, ranging from less than three meters deep (shallow peat) to over 12 m deep.
Drainage canals lower the depth of the water table causing the peat to dry out and lose structure, increasing surface fuel loads in remaining intact forest areas. These combined factors result in a high risk of fire in degraded peatlands. Rewetting programs seek to raise the water table back to surface.
Artificial canals cause peat to dry out, increasing fire risk.
Crops such as rice and palm oil planted on shallow and deep peat.
Toxic smoke from peat fires is a health hazard and impacts transnational relations and trade
Fires and logging result in critical habitat loss with the fires hard to extinguish
Drained peatland is subject to oxidation and at higher risk of burning, both of which release substantial quantities of carbon dioxide
Livelihoods based on unsustainable practices are risky and uncertain with crops and income lost due to fire and flooding
Planting of crops only on shallow peat
Artificial canals in peatland are blocked reducing drainage and fire risk
Reforestation of the deep peat zone can support livelihoods through timber and non-timber forest products
Establishment of conservation area in deep peat (deeper than 3m)
Raised water table – leading to net carbon sequestration and reduced fire risk
Agricultural options that are sustainable
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Peatland restoration includes various practical approaches such as reclamation; reforestation; rehabilitation; reconstruction; and/or revegetation. These approaches can also be combined with interventions whereby peatlands can regenerate naturally through forest protection. Full or partial protection of natural or semi-natural ecosystems also requires appropriate land-use zoning and protected area management, and management interventions other than restoration or protection may also include sustainable forestry and ecosystem-based fire management strategies. Created ecosystems can also be managed and protected successfully, albeit that the ecosystem is modified such that it does not resemble its natural ecological state such as rehabilitating degraded land with exotic species or reforesting an area with a single species where a diverse forest used to stand.