How the Amazonian peatlands in Peru came to be described

As we all, from Iquitos to Leeds and St Andrews, battle with COVID-19, our research is not the main challenge that we face at the moment, but perhaps a welcome distraction to help us face all the current uncertainty. I have taken some time to make our recent book chapter on conserving the Amazonian peatlands of Peru available here. The chapter was published in a wide-ranging book ‘Peru: Deforestation in times of Climate Change’ by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The chapter aims to summarise how the scientific description of the peatlands in the Pastaza Marañón basin began, as well as building on other publications to review the ecology of the wetlands, the threats they face and routes for their conservation. One of the most enjoyable aspects of putting the text together last year was talking to many of the people who had been involved with the very earliest steps in recognising the importance of the carbon stored beneath the ground in these ecosystems. I hope I have compiled all those recollections in a way which tells the story accurately and includes all the different threads. Each insight, observation and measurement was crucial for building the foundation for all the research that goes on in the region today. It emphasised to me how scientific discovery always builds incrementally on the work of those before us and the importance of collaboration and acknowledging the work of others. This is not of course a new idea, but bears repeating, where the scientific world demands that we define our success in individual, or institutional, terms, and successful collaboration across many individuals and institutions is often not recognised. I hope the chapter is useful – and take care over the coming months!

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