In our paper (Temmink et al. 2023), we argue that only integrated wetscapes (wet peatland landscapes) allow sustainable and complementary land-use functions. Wetscapes are an inevitable alternative for unsustainable drainagebased peatland use. In their comment, Langston et al. (2023) argue that our design is ‘‘desirable’’ but ‘‘overlooks the complex social, cultural and political dynamics of shaping peatlands’’. We much welcome these comments, which are complementary to the issues we focussed on in our paper. We all agree that peatland restoration should be ‘‘effective, efficient and just’’. ‘‘Effective’’ primarily refers to the physical basis of peatland management. ‘‘Peatland must be wet’’ is a boundary condition of global and local peatland sustainability, as drainage-based peatland use aggravates its own subsistence base (Joosten et al. 2012). Five percent of all global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions currently originate from drained peatlands, which cover merely 0.4% of the land area of our planet (UNEP 2022). These peatland emissions have since 1980 pushed 30 million people out of the ‘‘human climate niche’’ and with unchanged policies, this number will increase to almost 200 million by the end of the century (Lenton et al. 2023). Indonesia is responsible for a large proportion of these peatland emissions, and will also be one of the major hotspots of livelihood risk under global climate change (Lenton et al. 2023). On the regional scale, fires and haze from drained peatlands cause immense health, economic and transboundary political issues in Southeast Asia. Finally, ongoing subsidence of drained peatlands increasingly leads to saltwater intrusion, uncontrolled flooding, emergence of infertile acid sulphate and (extremely nutrient-poor, sandy) kerangas soils, all leading to the loss of productive land (Joosten et al. 2012). As it is physically impossible to stop the negative impacts of drained peatlands, real sustainability can only be reached with wet peatlands.

doi.org/10.1007/s13280-023-01967-5
Ambio
Staff publications

Temmink, Ralph J. M., Robroek, Bjorn J. M., van Dijk, Gijs, Koks, Adam H. W., Käärmelahti, Sannimari A., Barthelmes, Alexandra, … Smolders, Alfons J. P. (2023). Wetscapes provide the physical basis to sustainable peatland livelihoods. Ambio. doi:10.1007/s13280-023-01967-5

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