National Wetlands Update September 2012
Issue No. 21, September 2012
The role of wetlands in the carbon cycle
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Inter-tidal wetlands, such as mangroves, play an
important role in carbon sequestration.
Wetlands play an important role in landscape function, including cycling of carbon, water and nutrients, food and fibre production, water purification, regulation of flows, provision of habitats, and tourism and recreation services.
The role of wetlands in carbon sequestration and storage has generally been under-estimated. Wetlands cover approximately six to nine per cent of the Earth's surface and contain about 35 per cent of global terrestrial carbon. As wetlands are centres of high productivity in the landscape, they have a high capacity to sequester and store carbon. As depositional areas, wetlands can also store carbon-rich organic sediments. However, under anaerobic conditions, wetlands can also produce greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, though this is limited in saline conditions. Clearing or drainage of wetlands can lead to large losses of stored organic carbon to atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Greater consideration needs to be given to the roles of wetlands as carbon sources, sinks and storages when designing climate protection and natural resource programs. Therefore, in consultation with the Wetlands and Waterbirds Taskforce, the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has developed an issues paper, The role of wetlands in the carbon cycle. This paper considers the role of wetlands in carbon cycling, the implications of climate change for wetland functions and services, and mechanisms to promote protection and restoration of wetlands for multiple benefits including carbon sequestration.
To view the full paper visit Issues paper - The role of wetlands in the carbon cycle or for further information email email@example.com.