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  Value of Peatlands in the Philippines

a. Hydrology and Water Regulation

Many peatlands are very important for reducing flood peaks and for maintenance of base flows in rivers during dry periods, the peat acting as a sponge, absorbing water during wet periods and releasing it slowly. This service is particularly important in the Agusan Marsh, which is situated in the middle reaches of the Agusan River, not on the coastal plains. The value of the peatland in the marsh in reducing flood peaks in downstream areas with important settlements is likely to be substantial. The contribution to dry season base flows in the Agusan River and maintenance of groundwater levels is also probably high. Likewise, the peatland in the Leyte Sab-a Basin has the capacity to absorb and hold a lot of water during the rainy season, releasing it slowly to maintain base flows in the outflow rivers. Both peatlands are also probably significant in preventing penetration of saline water up rivers due to this contribution to minimum flows in the rivers during dry periods.

b. Carbon Storage

Although the Philippines has relatively little peatlands compared to other countries, the peatlands of the Philippines still have an important role to play in the storing and sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere. Despite this small area, it seems that much of the peatlands in the Philippines is still intact and is actively accumulating carbon from the atmosphere.

c. Biodiversity Values

The limited information available suggests that biodiversity values of Philippine peatlands are high. Considering the high level of endemism of the Philippine flora, the botanical survey of peatland areas may yield undescribed species. Moreover, at the ecosystem level of biodiversity, there seems to be a unique vegetation assemblage on the Caimpugan peat dome, which is different from the vegetation community found on peat domes in nearby northwest Borneo.

There have been no faunal surveys in Philippine peatlands, although wild boar and deer are found in the Agusan Marsh. The endemic Philippine Tarsier has been reported from the Leyte Sab-a Basin peatlands, which also hosts a resident Little Egret population. 

d. Aesthetic Values

High scenic values are found in identified Philippine peatlands, including the striking forests of Lanipao (Terminalia copelandii) in both the Agusan Marsh and the Leyte Sab-a Basin. Both peatlands are surrounded by uplands, from which impressive views of the peatlands can be gained.

e. Socio-Economic Values

Peatlands are also important to local communities as a source of wood like timber and firewood for domestic needs and non wood products like the Frimbistylis globulosa, locally known as “tikog” for mat making and other livelihood purposes. Important peatlands in both Agusan and Leyte Sab-a have been drained and converted to agriculture.