Tropical Peatlands

By Jack Rieley, Susan Page

© 2016 – Routledge

320 pages

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Hardback: 9781849713221
pub: 2016-07-31
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About the Book

Tropical peatlands are found mostly in South East Asia, but also in Africa and in Central and South America. These and peat-swamp forests store large amounts of carbon and their destruction, particularly through the development of plantations for oil palm and other forms of agriculture, releases large quantities of greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. They are also complex and vulnerable ecosystems, home to great biodiversity and a number of endangered species such as the orangutan.

The aim of this book is to introduce this little known, but important and vulnerable ecosystem, in a way that explains its long standing interaction with the global carbon cycle and how it is being destroyed by deforestation and inappropriate development. The authors describe the origin and formation of peat in the tropics, its current location, extent and amount of carbon stored in it, its biodiversity and natural resource functions and key ecological functions and processes. Appropriate hydrology is the key to the development and maintenance of peatlands and the unique aspects of tropical peatland water supply and management are also explored. In the same vein, the nutrient dynamics and budgets of this ecosystem are explained in order to show how complex habitats can be maintained mainly by rainwater containing very low concentrations of essential chemical elements. Past and present impacts on tropical peatlands in South East Asia are discussed and the need for restoration and wise use highlighted. Finally, projections are made about the future of this ecosystem as a result of continuing human impacts and climate change.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Introduction to Peatlands

1. General Overview

2. Mires, Peatlands and Peat

Part 2: Introduction to Tropical Peatlands

3. Introduction to Tropical Peatlands and Historical Perspective

4. Location and Extent of Tropical Peatlands

5. Formation and Age of Tropical Peat

Part 3: Physical, Chemical and Biological Characteristics of Tropical Peatlands

6. Physical Characteristics of Tropical Peat

7. Chemical Characteristics of Tropical Peat

8. Biological Characteristics of Tropical Peat

Part 4: Natural Resource Functions of Tropical Peatland

9. Ecological and Landscape Functions 1: Biodiversity and Habitat

10. Ecological and Landscape Functions 2: Hydrology

11. Carbon Cycle

12. Socio-economic and Cultural Functions

Part 5: Uses of Tropical Peatland and their Impacts

13. Agriculture

14. Forestry

15. Other Uses of Tropical Peatland and Peat

16. Non-sector Impacts

Part 6: Cross-cutting and Emerging Issues

17. Climate Change

18. Restoration of Degraded Tropical Peatlands

19. Management and Wise Use of Tropical Peatlands

20. Conclusion

About the Authors

Jack Rieley is a Professor in the School of Geography, University of Nottingham, UK, and a consultant in ecology, conservation and management. He has been the director or scientific co-ordinator of several major projects on the sustainable management and restoration of tropical peatlands, including co-director of the Kalimantan Peat Swamp Forest Research Programme in Indonesia. He is also on the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Peat Society.

Susan Page is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Physical Geography Research Group at the University of Leicester, UK. She is also a visiting research professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, National University of Singapore.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography