Despite the importance of organic soils, including peatlands, in the global carbon cycle, detailed information on regional and global emissions is scarce. This is due to the difficulty to map, measure, and assess the complex dynamics of land, soil, and water interactions needed to assess the human-driven degradation of organic soils. We produced a new methodology for the comprehensive assessment of drained organic soils in agriculture and the estimation of the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Results indicated that over 25 million hectares of organic soils were drained worldwide for agriculture use, of which about 60% were in boreal and temperate cool areas, 34% in tropical areas, and 5% in warm temperate areas. Total emissions from the drainage were globally significant, totaling nearly one billion tonnes CO2
eq annually. Of this, the CO2
component, about 780 million tonnes, represented more than one-fourth of total net CO2
emissions from agriculture, forestry, and land use. The bulk of these emissions came from a few tropical countries in Southeast Asia, and was linked to land clearing and drainage for crop cultivation. Geospatial data relative to this work were disseminated via the FAO geospatial server GeoNetwork, while the national aggregated statistics were disseminated via the FAOSTAT database.
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