Climate change: “Globally, peatlands are the most important repositories of carbon”

Hamburg Climate change

“Globally, peatlands are the most important reservoirs of carbon”

Successful example of resaturation: A portion of Wittmoor, which had been dredged for decades, has been successfully reformatted Successful example of resaturation: A portion of Wittmoor, which had been dredged for decades, has been successfully reformatted

Successful example of resaturation: A portion of Wittmoor, which had been dredged for decades, has been successfully reformatted

Source: dpa / Markus Scholz

After drainage, bogs are used as grassland or arable land. But drainage releases millions of tons of greenhouse gases. Now I’m starting to rethink, because wetlands have great potential for climate protection.

FifthStumps of long-dead birch trees still sporadically emerge from the swampy, swampy lake as evidence of early drainage. Peat moss has been growing here again for a long time. The small Wittmoor on the border between Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein is an example of successful resaturation. Decades ago, after the peat was extracted, the drainage channels were again closed and the water level raised.

Meanwhile, Germany has realized that agricultural drainage and land use contribute significantly to the emission of climate-damaging gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O). With around 53 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2019, according to the federal government, this represented nearly seven percent of all emissions in Germany.

The challenge is huge

“From a global perspective, peatlands are the most important carbon reservoirs, and forests just can’t keep up,” says Tom Kershi, a peat expert with the environmental organization Naboo. It occupies about three percent of the world’s land area and is still largely intact.

According to the University of Greifswald, 78 percent of German swamps are in the North German Plain and 20 percent are in the foothills of the Alps. The total area of ​​peat soils in Germany is estimated at 14,190 square kilometers (square kilometres). About 65 percent is used for agriculture.

The dryland problem – according to Kirche, affecting 98 to 99 percent of the area in Germany – is the natural decomposition of the organic soil layer under the influence of oxygen. “The task is to reverse this in the shortest possible time.” If the peat is submerged again, the decomposition process is stopped. After some time, carbon from the atmosphere begins to be stored, because in the long term algae grow and therefore new peat.

Read also

Seagrass meadows help protect the climate - a nursery for many species

Read also

The sandbanks of the river bed, painstakingly restored elsewhere from the regulated rivers, must be intentionally dredged into the Oder itself.

The Federal Ministry of the Environment alone intends to invest 48 million euros in four pilot projects to protect the swampy lands over the next ten years. This includes the management of re-moistened marshlands in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, and Bavaria. There are many projects to restore peatlands throughout Germany.

Federal Environment Minister Stevie Lemke (Greens) has set the goal of reducing annual emissions in this region by 5 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030. “I would like us to make faster progress in wetting and revitalizing swamps.” As a conservation activist, she was deeply disappointed with the recent federal government. The swamp protection strategy is not jointly adopted by all departments. “The most important thing for me is to practically speed things up, and to make better progress in nature conservation,” Lemke says.

The challenge is huge. According to the Paris climate target and the European Union’s climate target, all swamps in Germany should become wet again by 2045, says expert Nabu Kirchi. “We have to find solutions for land owners and land users.”

Nina Seifert and Karl Barnick of the Michael Soko Foundation are investigating the growth of rare plants on a body of water in the approximately 36-hectare Pensenburg Springs Swamp.

Nina Seifert and Karl Barnick of the Michael Soko Foundation are investigating the growth of rare plants on a body of water in the approximately 36-hectare Pensenberg Springs Swamp.

Source: dpa / Jens Buttner

Waste lands that are no longer drained can continue to be used for agriculture. This makes it possible to grow reeds, which serve as a cane for the roof. According to the Greifswald Moore Center, the biomass of blastocysts can be used to generate energy. So reeds can be used in new building materials and peat moss as an alternative to peat in horticulture.

Kerchi says that instead of dairy cows, future farmers can rely on water buffalo, which thrive in wetlands and also eat their plants. In Brandenburg, for example, this is already a good business being expanded.

The conversion should be boosted accordingly. European agricultural support should be changed accordingly. “So that in the future we can promote swamp-friendly farming and no longer support the destruction of swamps.”

Read also

A temporary carbon dioxide storage facility will be built on the Ogarden coast

In Schleswig-Holstein, the Nature Conservation Foundation has already taken over and rehydrated several marsh areas. By 2030, there should be another 200 square kilometres. In Erfde, in the lowlands of the rivers Eder, Trine and Sorge, an agricultural model farm is being established in cooperation with the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel. The federal government finances the project with more than twelve million euros.

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.