One of the following regions has the world’s largest tropical peatland, which holds about three years worth of global carbon emissions from fossil fuels; and the possible destruction of which can exert detrimental effect on the global climate. Which one of the following denotes that region?

(a) Amazon Basin
(b) Congo Basin
(c) Kikori Basin
(d) Rio de la Plata Basin

Correct Answer: (b) Congo Basin

  • The Congo Basin is home to the world’s largest tropical peatland, which holds about three years’ worth of global carbon emissions from fossil fuels. The peatlands in the central Congo Basin cover approximately 167,600 square kilometers and store between 26 and 32 billion tonnes of carbon, making them a critical carbon sink. Only 8% of this peat carbon lies within nationally protected areas, suggesting vulnerability to future land-use changes.

Explanation of Options:

  • Amazon Basin: While the Amazon Basin contains significant peatlands, they are not as extensive as those in the Congo Basin. The Amazon’s peatlands are important for regional carbon cycling and habitat diversity but do not match the Congo Basin in terms of carbon storage capacity.
  • Congo Basin: The Congo Basin peatlands are the largest tropical peatland complex in the world, covering 36% of the world’s tropical peatland area and storing 28% of the world’s tropical peat carbon. These peatlands are crucial in the fight against climate change due to their massive carbon storage capacity.
  • Kikori Basin: Located in Papua New Guinea, the Kikori Basin has significant peat swamp forests but does not compare to the Congo Basin in terms of size or carbon storage. The Kikori Basin is known for its biodiversity and ecological importance but is not the largest tropical peatland.
  • Rio de la Plata Basin: This basin, located in South America, is primarily known for its extensive river system and does not contain significant peatland areas. It is not relevant to the context of tropical peatlands and their carbon storage capabilities.

Learn More

  • Importance of Peatlands:
    • Carbon Storage: Peatlands store a significant amount of carbon, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. The Congo Basin peatlands alone store between 26 and 32 billion tonnes of carbon.
    • Climate Regulation: Peatlands help regulate the climate by acting as carbon sinks. They store carbon that plants have absorbed from the atmosphere, providing a net-cooling effect.
    • Biodiversity: Peatlands support diverse ecosystems, including many plant and animal species. The Congo Basin peatlands are home to endangered species such as the western lowland gorilla and the African forest elephant.
  • Threats to Peatlands:
    • Land-Use Changes: Activities such as logging, mining, and agriculture can lead to the drainage and degradation of peatlands, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere and exacerbating climate change.
    • Oil Exploration: In the Congo Basin, oil exploration poses a significant threat to peatlands. The DRC government has auctioned large areas of peatland for oil development, which could lead to substantial carbon emissions if the peatlands are disturbed.
  • Conservation Efforts:
    • Protected Areas: Only a small percentage of peatlands are currently protected. Increasing the number of protected areas is crucial to preserving these vital ecosystems.
    • Sustainable Management: Engaging with governments, local communities, and industries to find a balance between development and conservation is essential for the long-term protection of peatlands.
Reflection in IAS EXPRESS

Current Affairs >> Newsbits (July 2023)


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