Forgotten peatlands of eastern Australia: An unaccounted carbon capture and storage system

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Aug 15;730:139067. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139067. Epub 2020 Apr 30.


In a carbon-constrained world, global peatlands are vital carbon capture and storage systems. Here we calculate regional carbon stocks, sequestration rates and potential carbon emissions of Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone (THPSS) found in low order headwater streams in eastern Australia. We find that total carbon stocks within THPSS in two regions are 25 Mt CO2 eq. with annual carbon sequestration rates at 60.5 kt CO2 eq. A risk assessment model, based on anthropogenic activities known to impair the carbon storage functions of THPSS is used to identify swamps most at risk of carbon loss. Potential CO2 emissions from at risk swamps could be up to 8.6 Mt CO2 eq. When carbon stock is valued at the current carbon abatement price of $AUD16.10 t-1 CO2 eq, the total value of THPSS is over AUD$404 million dollars (US$281 million). This makes a strong economic case for the implementation of sustainable swamp conservation and restoration activities.

Keywords: Anthropogenic disturbance; Carbon emissions; Carbon sequestration; Carbon stocks; Peatlands; Risk mapping.