Mapping peat thickness and carbon stocks of the central Congo Basin using field data

The world's largest tropical peatland complex is found in the central Congo Basin. However, there is a lack of in situ measurements to understand the peatland's distribution and the amount of carbon stored in it. So far, peat in this region has been sampled only in largely rain-fed interfluvial basins in the north of the Republic of the Congo. Here we present the first extensive field surveys of peat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which covers two-thirds of the estimated peatland area, including from previously undocumented river-influenced settings. We use field data from both countries to compute the first spatial models of peat thickness (mean 1.7 +/- 0.9 m; maximum 5.6 m) and peat carbon density (mean 1,712 +/- 634 MgC ha(-1); maximum 3,970 MgC ha(-1)) for the central Congo Basin. We show that the peatland complex covers 167,600 km(2), 36% of the world's tropical peatland area, and that 29.0 PgC is stored below ground in peat across the region (95% confidence interval, 26.3-32.2 PgC). Our measurement-based constraints give high confidence of globally significant peat carbon stocks in the central Congo Basin, totalling approximately 28% of the world's tropical peat carbon. Only 8% of this peat carbon lies within nationally protected areas, suggesting its vulnerability to future land-use change. Field surveys suggest peatlands in the central Congo Basin are globally significant carbon stocks, storing approximately 28% of the world's tropical peat carbon.
  • Authors: Crezee, B., Dargie, G.C., Ewango, C.E.N., Mitchard, E.T.A., Emba, B.O., Kanyama, T.J., Bola, P., Ndjango, J.B.N., Girkin, N.T., Bocko, Y.E., Ifo, S.A., Hubau, W., Seidensticker, D., Batumike, R., Imani, G., Cuni-Sanchez, A., Kiahtipes, C.A., Lebamba, J., Wotzka, H.P., Bean, H., Baker, T.R., Baird, A.J., Boom, A., Morris, P.J., Page, S.E., Lawson, I.T., Lewis, S.L.
  • Author Affiliation: N8 Research Partnership, White Rose University Consortium, University of Leeds, University of Edinburgh, Cranfield University, Ghent University, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Ghent University, N8 Research Partnership, White Rose University Consortium, University of York - UK, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, State University System of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Cologne, University of Leicester, University of St Andrews, University of London, University College London
  • Subjects: peat soils, peatlands, tropics, carbon sinks
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • Source: Nature Geoscience 15(8): 639
  • Year: 2022
  • DOI:
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