Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 327–346 | Cite as

Improving estimates of tropical peatland area, carbon storage, and greenhouse gas fluxes

  • I. T. LawsonEmail author
  • T. J. Kelly
  • P. Aplin
  • A. Boom
  • G. Dargie
  • F. C. H. Draper
  • P. N. Z. B. P. Hassan
  • J. Hoyos-Santillan
  • J. Kaduk
  • D. Large
  • W. Murphy
  • S. E. Page
  • K. H. Roucoux
  • S. Sjögersten
  • K. Tansey
  • M. Waldram
  • B. M. M. Wedeux
  • J. Wheeler
Invited Feature Article


Our limited knowledge of the size of the carbon pool and exchange fluxes in forested lowland tropical peatlands represents a major gap in our understanding of the global carbon cycle. Peat deposits in several regions (e.g. the Congo Basin, much of Amazonia) are only just beginning to be mapped and characterised. Here we consider the extent to which methodological improvements and improved coordination between researchers could help to fill this gap. We review the literature on measurement of the key parameters required to calculate carbon pools and fluxes, including peatland area, peat bulk density, carbon concentration, above-ground carbon stocks, litter inputs to the peat, gaseous carbon exchange, and waterborne carbon fluxes. We identify areas where further research and better coordination are particularly needed in order to reduce the uncertainties in estimates of tropical peatland carbon pools and fluxes, thereby facilitating better-informed management of these exceptionally carbon-rich ecosystems.


Peat Greenhouse gases Remote sensing Tropical ecology Carbon cycle 



We would like to thank A.J. Baird and G.T. Swindles for comments on an earlier version of the text, and the two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments that greatly improved this article. The workshops that led to this article were supported financially by the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham, and the Natural Environment Research Council-funded ‘Earth Observation Technology Cluster’ knowledge exchange initiative.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. T. Lawson
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. J. Kelly
    • 2
  • P. Aplin
    • 3
  • A. Boom
    • 4
  • G. Dargie
    • 2
  • F. C. H. Draper
    • 2
  • P. N. Z. B. P. Hassan
    • 4
  • J. Hoyos-Santillan
    • 5
  • J. Kaduk
    • 4
  • D. Large
    • 6
  • W. Murphy
    • 4
  • S. E. Page
    • 4
  • K. H. Roucoux
    • 1
  • S. Sjögersten
    • 5
  • K. Tansey
    • 4
  • M. Waldram
    • 4
  • B. M. M. Wedeux
    • 7
  • J. Wheeler
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Sustainable DevelopmentUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  2. 2.School of GeographyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  3. 3.School of GeographyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  5. 5.School of BiosciencesUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  6. 6.Department of Chemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  7. 7.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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