redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Greenhouse gas emissions originating from drained wetlands are roughly equal to that given off by industrial factories, a team of Swedish researchers claim in a new study.
Experts from the University of Gothenburg and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) were commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to analyze and compile a report about the amount of greenhouse gases given off by forests and agricultural fields on areas that once had been wetlands.
They discovered those forests and fields, which comprise as much as 10-percent of the country’s total surface area, become a “significant source of greenhouse emissions” once the wetlands have been drained, the university said in a statement released Friday.
“We note that drained wetlands which have been forested or used for agricultural purposes are a significant potential source of greenhouse gases of a magnitude that is at least comparable with the industrial sector´s greenhouse gas emissions in Sweden,” they said.
Those emissions can be reduced, the researchers said, if the land is rewetted. However, doing so would hamper forestry production in those areas, which means that some compromised between environmentalists and industrialists might be necessary.
“As long as wetlands remain wet, only methane is given off,” Dr. Kasimir Klemedtsson of the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Earth Sciences, said. “However, for more than a hundred years land has been drained for agriculture and forestry, producing large quantities both carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.”
“New rules were introduced at last year´s Durban Climate Change Conference with the second Kyoto Protocol phase,” the university added. “These rules include the possibility of reporting wetland drainage or rewetting of drained wetlands. Sweden now faces the choice of whether to include these ahead of the second Kyoto Protocol phase.”