Drained Wetlands Produce Greenhouse Gases

According to new research from universities in Sweden, drained wetlands are capable of producing as much greenhouse gas emissions as Swedish industry.

In a summary of research from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, it is shown that drained wetlands in Sweden account for the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as Swedish industry. Forests and agricultural fields on drained wetlands make up five to 10 percent of the surface area in Sweden.

Once wetlands are drained, the area becomes a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions from the drained wetlands is possible, but that would involve rewetting the land, which would have a negative impact on forestry production. In order for emissions to be controlled, the researchers say that a compromise may be necessary.

"As long as wetlands remain wet, only methane is given off," says Åsa Kasimir Klemedtsson from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. "However, for more than a hundred years land has been drained for agriculture and forestry, producing large quantities of both carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide."

Together with researcher Örjan Berglund from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Kasimir Klemedtsson was commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to compile information about greenhouse gases from drained wetlands during the summer and autumn months in 2012.

New rules were introduced at last year's Durban Climate Change Conference with the second Kyoto Protocol phase. These rules include the possibility of reporting wetland drainage or rewetting of drained wetlands. Sweden now has the choice of whether to include these ahead of the second Kyoto Protocol phase.

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