How do we value the land? This is the conversation the Homer Drawdown community has begun to explore. The most emphasized valuation of land is based on its market value. Of course, the worth of land cannot wholly be captured by monetary figures. The way the land feeds our soul, renders our way of life, and connects us to our ancestry represents its intrinsic and spiritual value. Underlying these intrinsic and monetary valuation systems are the benefits we receive as ecosystem services. While flood control, carbon storage and soil formation are hard to see, these ecosystem services are critical to understand and appreciate in our climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Through a 9-month process of community learning and brainstorming around local climate solutions, our Homer Drawdown Series identified dozens of meaningful actions our community can take to reduce carbon emissions. Our goal was to democratically choose one achievable solution to put our collective energy towards over the next year. After thoughtful consideration and discussion, the Homer Drawdown community voted and began its transition to the project implementation phase. The project we chose is: Community Education, Preservation and Restoration of Peatlands.
Because peatlands’ carbon content is typically over 50%, they act as such an important carbon sink that peatland protection is #13 of all 100 solutions identified in Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. As noted in Drawdown: “Though these unique ecosystems cover just 3% of the earth’s land area, they are second only to oceans in the amount of carbon they store – TWICE that held by the world’s forests.” Locally, the Kenai Peninsula is rich in peatlands – their carbon storage function is critical, but undervalued. Over the next year, the Homer Drawdown community will be uplifting peatlands’ importance to land managers and local policy makers as we do our part to tackle climate change locally.