Peatlands are globally important ecosystems and are found in an estimated 180 countries (Parish et al., 2008). Although we know that peatlands are found all over the world, there is no comprehensive mapping of their locations. This is because many peatlands have not been recognized as such and have yet to be properly mapped. To ensure peatlands remain intact, better knowledge and maps are needed on their typology, location and extent.
This graphic does not reflect the true global extent of peatlands because of the challenges faced in finding and defining them. The consensus among scientists is that there are extensive areas of undiscovered and unreported peatlands. Recent modelling studies indicate that there could be three times more tropical peatlands than current estimates (Gumbricht et al., 2017). This is supported by the recent documentation of huge areas of previously unquantified and unclassified peatlands in Africa and South America. In early 2017, scientists announced that they had mapped the largest peatland complex in the tropics – the Cuvette Centrale swamp forest in the Congo Basin – estimated to cover 145,000 km2 and containing more than 30 billion tonnes of carbon (Dargie et al., 2017). Similarly, peatlands mapped in the lowlands of the Peruvian Amazon in South America are estimated to cover 120,000 km2 containing an estimated 20 billion tonnes (Lähteenoja et al., 2011).
From collection: Smoke on Water