Ecological resilience of restored peatlands to climate change
Degradation of peatlands through land-use change and drainage is currently responsible for 5-10% of global annual anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, restoring disturbed and degraded peatlands is an emerging priority in efforts to mitigate climate change. While restoration can revive multiple ecosystem functions, including carbon storage, the resilience of restored peatlands to climate change and other disturbances remains poorly understood. Here, we review the recent literature on the response of degraded and restored peatlands to fire, drought and flood. We find that degraded sites can generally be restored in a way that allows for net carbon sequestration. However, biodiversity, hydrological regime, and peat soil structure are not always fully restored, even after a decade of restoration efforts, potentially weakening ecosystem resilience to future disturbances. As the recovery of degraded peatlands is fundamental to achieving net-zero goals and biodiversity targets, sound science and monitoring efforts are needed to further inform restoration investments and priorities.
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Loisel, J., Gallego-Sala, A. Ecological resilience of restored peatlands to climate change. Commun Earth Environ 3, 208 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-022-00547-x