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The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS) 425,000 acres of National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) land in the Albemarle Sound watershed of northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia represent one of the largest ownerships of peat-based forested wetlands in the eastern U.S. FWS is collaborating with an array of stakeholders to increase the resiliency of peatlands through restoring the hydrology of these carbon-rich wetlands. Refuge lands in the Albemarle Sound, while protected, are ecologically degraded due to prior drainage which promoted soil loss to the atmosphere via oxidation. Peatland forests are gaining global recognition for their tremendous carbon sequestration potential. With nearly a half million acres of restorable peatlands in the Albemarle Sound region (and 100,000 on FWS lands alone), refuges can substantially contribute to international targets for carbon sequestration through rewetting efforts, which will also restore significant wildlife habitats. The presentation will provide an overview of 1) the importance of peatland restoration as a strategy for providing resilient wildlife habitat, 2) the potential for restoration efforts to engage carbon markets and attract new partners and funding sources, and 3) opportunities to expand adaptation and C sequestration projects as tool for strategic landscape-scale restoration and habitat protection in the Albemarle Region and beyond.
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