5 Ecosystems Across The World That Need To Be Protected Right Now

These regions around the world need to be protected for current climate action.
5 Ecosystems Across The World That Need To Be Protected Right Now
5 Ecosystems Across The World That Need To Be Protected Right Now

Our carbon footprints in every sphere of life are causing much of the climate change around the world, including ones generated while travelling. It has also become a term that is casually thrown around in any climate action discussion. Over the years, various studies have found that nature&rsquos stashes of climate-warming carbon are packed into a small percentage of Earth&rsquos lands. A study in 2021 has&nbspnarrowed down on the ecosystems that humans have to protect in order to avert climate catastrophe. The study suggests that 50% of the Earth&rsquos irrecoverable carbon is stored under 3.3% of the Earth&rsquos surface. These fragile ecosystems can be found in peatlands, mangroves and old-growth forests across six continents. Here's a look at them.

The Congo Basin

The muddy cores from the Congo Basin's swampy peatlands may not appear to be much at first glance. Layers of clay and silt are scattered throughout with mashed-together fragments of dimly recognisable plant material in various degrees of decomposition. But, like with so many things in nature, these seemingly innocuous samples contain far more than meets the eye. They are, in fact, revelatory of a stunning natural succession that has occurred in this distant part of the Congo Basin rainforest.

It has the largest known complex peat in the tropics which holds more than 30 billion metric tonnes of carbon, a repository so huge that it more than tripled the known carbon storage in tropical peatland. As the flooded forest has prevented the carbon-releasing process of breakdown by bacteria and fungus, this carbon has collected for the previous 10,600 years, thus, making the region a ticking time bomb for the world&rsquos third-largest carbon emissions, if not treated with care.

Niger Delta Mangroves

Mangroves tend to grow in water lands whereby there&rsquos minimal direct sunlight hitting the vegetation. The world&rsquos largest stretch of mangroves is in Africa&rsquos Niger Delta which has trees that have not seen sunlight for about a century and thus, hold an exorbitant amount of carbon within them. In a 2019 report, Conservation International scientist Allie Goldstein suggested that over 240 million tons of irrecoverable carbon are trapped in the dense Niger Delta's coastline forest.

The Amazon Rainforest

The rapid pace of deforestation rate with which almost 15% of the forest have vanished, is making this region a critical zone whereby if actions are not taken in time, about 25% of the forest could disappear within the next 10 to 15 years and the carbon released due to the same could pose grave global warming threats. In addition to it, the forest is drying up exponentially, which is not only a threat to the survival of one-tenth of flora and fauna species of the planet but could also lead to potential barren lands and forest fires which could further aggravate the carbon emissions.

Papua New Guinea Peatlands

Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific is a region rich in peatlands and waterbeds consisting of an ecosystem built up of rotting waterlogged plants that have stored carbon overages. The peatlands reportedly rich in 3.9 billion metric tonnes of irrecoverable carbon are in a similarly dire situation such as the Amazon whereby the vegetation is extremely sensitive to moisture and the habitat it has grown in for centuries. The third-largest expanse of tropical rainforest on the planet is at the risk of compromising up to 15000 kilometres of its land to the national road network plan and peer-reviewed research suggests that this could put numerous environmental and socioeconomic risks on this ecosystem.

The Islands of Southeast Asia

Research at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that the islands of Southeast Asia have contributed the most in the cooling down of the region, leading to the development of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets. These islands due to their positioning, steep terrain, and tropical climate have become the hotspots for CO2 consumption via silicate weathering and store carbon reserved within them. They have been growing in size at the same time that the Earth's temperature has been cooling since 15 million years ago. Even though their current expansion is not at potential risk, countries will have to take conscious effort to facilitate their preservation and expansion, as this region could prove to be the biggest cooling agent in the Southern Asian continent over the coming decades.

Outlook Traveller