According to the UN Environment Programme, peatlands store about 30% of all land-based carbon – twice the amount stored in the world’s forests.
However, up to 50% of these peatland areas have been lost, intentionally drained, burned for agriculture, or used as a heating fuel since 1900. As a result, huge amounts of stored carbon have been released into the atmosphere.
Aside from their carbon storage function, these areas also provide us with water and recreation facilities, mitigate extreme water events, and support a range of wildlife.
"For the world to keep the global average temperature increase under 2°C, then peatlands must gain our attention – locally and globally," says Dianna Kopansky, UN Environment’s Global Peatlands coordinator.
"Urgent action must be taken everywhere, especially in the tropics to keep the carbon locked in peatlands where it is – wet, and in the ground."