Tropical peatlands are efficient carbon sinks, accumulating organic matter over thousands of years in flooded conditions. Yet over the last few decades, vast areas of peatland in Southeast Asia have been drained and deforested for industrial and agricultural purposes. When the water table is lowered, peat is exposed to the atmosphere resulting in increased CO2 emissions, land subsidence, and fire risk.
More recently there is an increased focus on peatland restoration and rewetting projects. However, measurements of CO2 and CH4 exchange in tropical peatlands undergoing rewetting are extremely scarce. Our group is measuring CO2 and CH4 emissions from peatlands and drainage canals in Indonesia. We aim to quantify the effects of rewetting on carbon exchange and improve understanding of the underlying biogeochemical processes. Through this research we will provide support for peatland rewetting decision-making by identifying sites that are most likely to result in a reduction in carbon emissions after rewetting.