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The First Estimate of Peatland Coverage in Angola

Ask most people what they picture when thinking about natural “carbon sinks” – ecosystems that absorb and store greenhouse gases – and they’ll probably describe a forest. Reforestation is a common feature of climate change plans. But there’s another equally important, often overlooked type of natural carbon sink: peatlands. These are a particular type of wetland ecosystem in which dark, loamy peat soil is produced. Peatlands store more carbon than all the world’s forests combined. Despite this, even global scientific bodies have not paid much attention to peatlands until very recently. Global maps and inventories of peatlands are inconsistent, though there is more data for the northern hemisphere compared to the southern hemisphere and the tropics. High quality peatland extent data are only available for a small selection of countries and regions, including Canada, Sweden and West Siberia. This gap needs to be filled urgently: discovering, quantifying and protecting new peatland deposits is necessary in an uncertain climate future that depends on intact, natural carbon sinks.