WHEN PEATLANDS ARE DRAINED, typically for agriculture or for development, then all of the organic matter that had been preserved underwater for thousands of years starts to be oxidized.
ALEXANDER COBB→ This means that when the plant-stored CO2 and energy, in the form of this organic matter, that energy can then be released in one of several different kinds of ways. So one way is that you have organisms that eat the organic matter, they could be bacteria or fungi. They digest the organic matter, they get some of the energy, they get some of the carbon. And they release some of the carbon back to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Because peat is almost all organic matter, there's almost nothing left.
CHARLES HARVEY→ Across most of Southeast Asia now the forests are cut down and, more importantly, the land is being drained, which lowers the water table and exposes the peat to oxygen, enabling microbes to live in the peat and eat the peat, and turn it into CO2 and release it back to the atmosphere.
Peatlands now in Southeast Asia are a large source of carbon to the atmosphere where as historically they've been a small sink of carbon from the atmosphere.
HARIS GUNAWAN→ We are at an area of peatland with a high fire risk. Yes, so this location is exactly at the Rimbo Panjang village, Tambang District, Kampar Regency, Riau Province. So we all know that peatland areas can easily catch fire and this is caused by many factors. One of them is using the peatland for the type of farming activities that dries the land by digging channels, and that uses plant species that are not suitable for the moist and wet nature of the peatland.