Caimpugan peatland, like other peatlands in Southeast Asia, serves as significant carbon sink. However, evidences of peatland disturbances caused by human activities can turn it to a carbon source, causing more damage to the environment.
This is according to Ms. Van Leeah Alibo, SEARCA PhD Research Scholar and instructor at Caraga State University, in her presentation during SEARCA’s Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) held on 3 May 2011.
Peatlands absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus, helping mitigate climate change. When peatlands are not protected and conserved, they can become a carbon source—emitting more carbon dioxide than they absorb.
She said that even though the bulk of peatlands are in the temperate regions, Filipinos and other Southeast Asians should care about peatlands since tropical peatlands store the most significant carbon dioxide as compared to temperate peatlands.
Caimpugan peatland is located within the Agusan Marsh in Northeastern Mindanao. It is one of the six in the Philippines. Unfortunately, Caimpugan peatland is threatened by the activities of the surrounding communities, such as, burning of forest patches, poaching of timber, and converting land for agriculture lead to peatland degradation.
“Since there is little knowledge about peatlands, nobody really cares about peatlands; they are considered waste lands; marginalized,” said Ms. Alibo.
She suggests that, the community should understand the ecosystem where they live since they are the ones who use and benefit from it. The community should also be responsible for conserving the peatland and managing it sustainably.
A soil survey of the Philippines reports that peatlands are called ‘undifferentiated groups of soil’—one of the least concerns of the government.
Ms. Alibo calls for action to help protect peatland ecosystems. Human activities around Caimpugan peatdome should be regulated to keep the ecological integrity of the peatland. This could be beneficial not just for the community surrounding it but also for its climate change mitigation impacts. (Stefhanie Lacbayo and Angela Minas)
The point of view taken by this article is entirely that of the presenter's and does not reflect in any way, SEARCA’s position.