Peatlands are carbon-rich ecosystems that cover just three per cent of Earth’s land surface, but store one-third of soil carbon. Peat soils are formed by the build-up of partially decomposed organic matter under waterlogged anoxic conditions. Most peat is found in cool climatic regions where unimpeded decomposition is slower, but deposits are also found under some tropical swamp forests. Here we present field measurements from one of the world’s most extensive regions of swamp forest, the Cuvette Centrale depression in the central Congo Basin.

By endorsing a limit of 1.5 °C, the climate negotiations have effectively defined what society considers dangerous, says Simon L. Lewis.

Researchers must take a more aggressive approach to counter shoddy journalism and set the scientific record straight, says Simon L. Lewis.

The response of terrestrial vegetation to a globally changing environment is central to predictions of future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The role of tropical forests is critical because they are carbon-dense and highly productive.

Long-term monitoring of distributed, multiple plots is the key to quantify macroecological patterns and changes. Here we examine the evidence for concerted changes in the structure, dynamics and composition of old-growth Amazonian forests in the late twentieth century. In the 1980s and 1990s, mature forests gained biomass and underwent accelerated growth and dynamics, all consistent with a widespread, long-acting stimulation of growth. Because growth on average exceeded mortality, intact Amazonian forests have been a carbon sink.