Fish and Wildlife Habitats Capture Atmospheric Carbons
Benefiting Our Qualities of Life!
Conservation of fish and wildlife habitats is one of the most important investments we can make to assure our qualities of life. Benefits obviously include our enjoyment of the out-of-doors and the enduring legacy and experience of fly fishing. But these natural landscapes and their diverse plant communities not only provide habitat for fish and wildlife, but also are the very source of the fresh water and clean air we require in our own daily lives.
Plants use photosynthesis to convert the water they take in through their roots as well as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and light energy from the sun to produce sugars for food and oxygen. The sugars along with water are used for development of plant material, growth and fruiting, while the oxygen and up to 99 % of the water they take in is transpired into the atmosphere through pores in their leaves.
Most importantly, these processes capture and sequester atmospheric carbons in the cellular structure of their woods and roots and organic soils. Carbon sequestration by native plant communities has been recognized as one of the more affordable and achievable means to address the challenges of carbon emissions and accelerated climate change. Every plant sequesters atmospheric carbon, but it is especially important to understand how some plant communities minimize return of carbon to the atmosphere.
Wetland plant communities that overlay peat soils are particularly important in this regard. These highly organic soils are very efficient at storing carbon and other natural elements. The fact that they are very old, continue to capture carbon and will continue to do so indefinitely, makes them particularly important to conserve in global strategies to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to natural climate change.
Peat soils underlay wetland plant communities throughout the world and certainly in many areas of North America. Their importance in the process of carbon sequestration could not be more exemplified than in the case of restoring the Florida Everglades. This 3 million-acre wetland system is well known for it’s diverse populations of fish and wildlife but it has suffered from decades of dewatering for agricultural purposes.
A new report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emphasized the importance of restoring hydrology of the Everglades and placed a $3.4 billion value on this wetland and the capacity of its peat soils to sequester and store carbon (UN Climate Report Highlights Importance of Everglades Restoration). A “Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan”, possibly the world’s largest ecosystem restoration project, is underway. Fly Fishers International and our many Conservation Partners support the plan as well as other efforts to restore and protect natural landscapes for their many essential values to fish, wildlife and humans alike.
More information on peat soils and their sequestration of carbon is available at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/02/21/headway/peat-carbon-climate-change.html?referringSource=articleShare
More FFI resources:
FFI Public Lands and Waters Policy
FFI Conservation Actions
Tom H. Logan
FFI Chairman of the Board Emeritus
FFI Chairman of Board Conservation Committee
FFI Vice Chairman of Board Conservation Committee
FFI Chairman of the Board