The largest peat bogs of the southern hemisphere are in Chile and Argentina. In Karukinka they cover 25 percent of the park and are a valuable ecosystem, because they capture from the atmosphere more than 300 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, and retain it in the subsoil, which prevents its negative impact on global warming.
In addition, they regulate the hydrological cycles that keep forests, preserve enormous amounts of freshwater and function as a natural filter, because they reduce the transport of sediment to the subterranean waters of the park.
These ecosystems are like huge natural sponges, saturated of water, so discrete, that at first glance they seem a vast area of treeless, colorful pasture, dotted with small, multicolored lagoons. But in the subsoil, under the peat bogs, billions of tons of carbon are trapped. Although they cover only four percent of the world’s surface, they contain twice as much carbon as the forests altogether. If all the gas retained there were to be released to the atmosphere, the effect over global warming would be dramatic and immediate.
Their surface is soft, smooth and spongy, because mosses that have been growing one over each other for thousands of years cover it. A peat bog is equivalent to a terrestrial iceberg: under the cover of reddish-green mosses, there is a mountain of semi-rotted plant material that holds. That invisible material is the peat bog.
Like miniature forests, the peat bogs of Karukinka are home to a rich biodiversity, such as insects, microorganisms, fishes and curious varieties of lichens. There are also rare species of flora that have adapted to flooded conditions, low oxygen and low availability of nutrients, like the sundew (Drosera uniflora), a tiny carnivorous plant. Its reddish leaves have tentacles that capture insects to feed on them.
The peat bogs are very vulnerable ecosystems to human intervention and they are at risk of disappearing. The peat is extracted and used, among other things, as a substrate and fertilizer for growing vegetables and flowers. In Karukinka we are developing tools that allow sustainable use of plant material without destroying this wonderful ecosystem.Download an informative pdf on peat bogs here