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  Peatlands in SEA


 Photo credit: Chin Sing Yun/GEC    
One of the major land types in Southeast Asia is peatlands. In a natural state these occur as peat swamp forests. These wetland forests have developed primarily in the coastal lowland plains in-between major rivers. They cover approximately 24 million ha in the region with the majority in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Thailand and Viet Nam and smaller areas in Myanmar, Lao PDR and the Philippines. In Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam they form more than 10% of the land area of the country. Peat swamp forests play a critical role in the economy and ecology of the region - providing timber and non-timber forest products, water supply, flood control and many other benefits. They also play a very significant role of global significance in storing an estimated 120 billion tonnes of carbon or approximately 5% of all global terrestrial carbon as well as being repositories for unique and important biodiversity.


Degradation of Peatlands
Over the past 30 years, peat swamp forests have been increasingly cleared, drained and degraded as a result of unsustainable forestry and agricultural practices. Read more >>


Degradation Due to Drainage and Subsidence
Even without fire, the peatlands of the region degrade rapidly once they are drained with land subsidence of up to 3m as recorded in some parts of the region following unregulated drainage. Read more >>

  Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts
All of these various problems have combined to make the degradation of the peat swamp forests of South East Asia into one of the most extensive and important land degradation problems in the world. Read more >>
Responses to the Problems
With increasing recognition of the significance of peatland degradation in the ASEAN region, there has been a growing level of activities at national and regional level. Read more >>
Need for new intervention
To date, efforts in the region to address the increasing problems of peatland fires and associated transboundary haze and greenhouse gas emission have focussed mainly on early warning and firefighting approaches. Read more >>