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Keep wetlands wet: the myth of sustainable development of tropical peatlands - implications for policies and management.

Evers, SL, Yule, CM, Padfield, R, O'Reilly, P and Varkkey, H (2016) Keep wetlands wet: the myth of sustainable development of tropical peatlands - implications for policies and management. Global Change Biology, 23 (2). pp. 534-549. ISSN 1354-1013

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Abstract

Pristine tropical peat swamp forests (PSFs) represent a unique wetland ecosystem of distinctive hydrology which support unique biodiversity and globally significant stores of soil carbon. Yet in Indonesia and Malaysia, home to 56% of the world's tropical peatland, they are subject to considerable developmental pressures, including widespread drainage to support agricultural needs. In this article, we review the ecology behind the functioning and ecosystem services provided by PSFs, with a particular focus on hydrological processes as well as the role of the forest itself in maintaining those services. Drawing on this, we review the suitability of current policy frameworks and consider the efficacy of their implementation. We suggest that policies in Malaysia and Indonesia are often based around the narrative of oil palm and other major monocrops as drivers of prosperity and development. However, we also argue that this narrative is also being supported by a priori claims concerning the possibility of sustainability of peat swamp exploitation via drainage-based agriculture through the adherence to best management practices. We discuss how this limits their efficacy, uptake and the political will towards enforcement. Further, we consider how both narratives (prosperity and sustainability) clearly exclude important considerations concerning the ecosystem value of tropical PSFs which are dependent on their unimpacted hydrology. Current research clearly shows that the actual debate should be focused not on how to develop drainage-based plantations sustainably, but on whether the sustainable conversion to drainage-based systems is possible at all.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Evers, S. , Yule, C. M., Padfield, R. , O'Reilly, P. and Varkkey, H. (2017), Keep wetlands wet: the myth of sustainable development of tropical peatlands – implications for policies and management. Glob Change Biol, 23: 534-549, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13422. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
Uncontrolled Keywords: 06 Biological Sciences, 05 Environmental Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Wiley
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2018 11:09
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2018 17:19
DOI or Identification number: 10.1111/gcb.13422
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9648

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