Research Program on the Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands in the Congo Basin 


Context and justification

Peatlands are special environments that store around a third of all organic carbon in the soil. Out of 3% of the surface occupied by peatlands, the tropical type represents around 10% of the whole, or around 440,000 km2. Recently, they have been discovered in large quantities in the Congo Basin between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo (RC). This has attracted the attention of the world, because the region is home to a very rich biodiversity in flora and fauna with endemic species. However, these ecosystems are vulnerable to climate change, land use changes and other anthropogenic activities that could lead to their drainage. This would contribute to high greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4, etc.) and fires with consequences for the health and livelihoods of neighboring communities.

To preserve these peatlands against natural and anthropogenic threats in the current context of climate change, we must have knowledge of their functioning and dynamics in order to reduce uncertainty and contribute to political decision-making.

Priority areas

The priority areas of research and capacity building expected to be investigated under this program are as follows :

  1. Peatland mapping ;
  2. The hydrological functioning of peatlands ;
  3. Characterization of biodiversity and ecosystem services associated with peatlands ;
  4. Determination of the hydraulic properties of peat soils ;
  5. Determining the thickness or depth of the peat ;
  6. Evaluation or estimation of carbon stocks in peat soils ;
  7. Threats from anthropogenic activities weighing on peatlands ;
  8. Potential climatic threats to the integrity of peatlands and scenario analysis  ;
  9. Endogenous knowledge and livelihoods of local communities.


  • Peatland Management Unit, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (UGT-MEDD)
  • Global Peatland Initiative
  • Enabel DRC, Belgian development agency
  • Japanese International Cooperation Agency, JICA
  • Department of Natural Resources Management of the University of Kinshasa