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30 billion tons of stored carbon discovered in Congo peatland

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At 3.7 million square kilometres, the Congo Basin contains some of the planet’s largest tropical rainforests and vast wetlands. Buried within this awesome wilderness are the Cuvette Centrale peatlands, recently discovered and mapped swamps that may contain 30 billion tons of carbon. This makes the Cuvette Centrale one of Earth’s most carbon rich ecosystems, one that desperately needs protection to avoid the release of the equivalent to 20 years of carbon emissions from the United States.

 

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The Cuvette Centrale peatlands were first discovered five years ago by a UK-Congolese research team, whose research, based on three year’s worth of peat analysis and satellite data, was published in Nature on Wednesday.  More commonly found in cooler climates, such as Scotland where it is used to

More commonly found in cooler climates, such as Scotland where it is used to flavour scotch, peat is formed from soaked, partially decomposed plant materials. In order for carbon to be stored, peat must not dry out. If it does, due to climate change or land disturbance, decomposition of the material will continue and carbon will be released into the atmosphere.

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Only recently discovered, the Cuvette Centrale peatlands have not yet been disturbed. However, their protection is of the utmost importance in reducing the impact of climate change. In addition to its value as a carbon sink, the Congo Basin is also of enormous ecological value as it is home to gorillas, elephants, okapi and other large mammals threatened by deforestation. The Republic of Congo is considering an expansion of its Lac Télé community reserve to protect an additional 50,000 square

In addition to its value as a carbon sink, the Congo Basin is also of enormous ecological value as it is home to gorillas, elephants, okapi and other large mammals threatened by deforestation. The Republic of Congo is considering an expansion of its Lac Télé community reserve to protect an additional 50,000 square kilometres of swamp forest, much of which is peatlands.

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