News/All pieces

Peatland meeting for Ramsar Convention

International workshop on Vilm

16/09/2016   Peatlands store twice as much carbon as the forest biomass worldwide and are huge source of greenhouse gases in many countries. To strengthen the role of peatlands in climate protection and the Ramsar Convention experts from politics, science and the private sector met for a three day workshop on the island of Vilm (Germany). The meeting report will cover guidelines for designating globally significant peatlands, best practice examples of restoration as well as ideas for the upcoming new Global Peatland Initiative. An excursion to the restored peatland Karrendorfer Wiesen and the first heating plant powered by fen biomass at Malchin complemented the workshop. It was jointly hosted by the Federal Agency for Nature Protection (BfN), the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, the Danish Nature Agency and the Greifswald Mire Centre. For more information see the press release Peatland protection is climate protection of the German Federal Agency for Nature Protection (German only).


Tiny mosses – big style!

Harvesting of cultivated peatmoss big style (Photo:

First large scale harvest of cultivated peatmoss worldwide

17/07/2016   It was a global premiere: the first mechanical harvest of cultivated peatmoss ever! At Hankhauser Moor (Lower Saxony), scientists of Greifswald University and staff of the peat company Moorkultur Ramsloh harvested the rare commodity from the joint pilot site. Being precious seed, the mosses were immediately reused and spread out, thus tripling the Sphagnum farming area. Expanding the site to a total ‘business-scale’ size of 13 ha also kicked off the MOOSWEIT-project (see for spectacular pictures the television movie).
Five years ago, the project partners had installed the peatmoss culture on former bog grassland that had been a drained and intensively used meadow for over 50 years. Mosses had established successfully and showed remarkable growth over the years. Peatmosses may be used as substrate in horticulture and thus present an alternative to peat. However, peatmoss biomass is not yet available in sufficient quantities and seed is especially scarce. Therefore, MOOSWEIT investigates large scale cultivation, mechanical harvest and regeneration of the permanent crop. The project is financed by the State of Lower Saxony, the EU (ERDF), and the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Moreover, Sphagnum farming allows a sustainable utilisation of rewetted bogs (paludiculture). So far, most peatlands in Germany are being drained for agricultural use. This results in immense emissions of greenhouse gases. In contrast, wet peatlands hardly emit any CO2, filter nutrient-rich water and offer habitats for rare species. For more information on the peatmoss cultivation at Hankhauser Moor see the press release of Fachagentur für nachwachsende Rohstoff (FNR) and


Hot of the press II

„Peatland Restoration and Ecosystem Services“

27/06/2016   „Peatland Restoration and Ecosystem Services: Science, Policy, and Practice“ ist the title of the first, up-to-date and comprehensive book on peatland restoration and ecosystem services. It is 493 pages strong and unites, according to the publisher Cambridge University Press, contributions of world class experts to examine the topic from an ecological, social and economic perspective. GMC scientist may be pleased since they co-authored nine of the book’s 20 chapters. „Peatland Restoration and Ecosystem Services“ is also available as eBook.


Fire and haze force Indonesia to think big in the wet

Oil palm and ananas plantation on drained peatland (Foto: Hans Joosten)

GMC’s tropical counterpart established

11/06/2016   Over two million hectare of peatland have been burning in Indonesia from August 2015 on. Precise CO2-emissions are yet to be assessed but may add up to over 10% of the world’s anthropogenic CO2 emissions in 2015 as GMC scientists roughly estimate. The economic damage of the 2015 fires exceeds US $16 billion according to early assessments of the World Bank and more than doubles the damage and losses from the 2004 tsunami. A call for urgent action which the Indonesian government understood well and adopted plans to restore ca. 2,7 million hectare of Indonesian peatlands within the next five years. To kick off ambitious the programme a workshop “Peatland paludiculture – an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve livelihoods” was organised in Jakarta by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia in May 2016. Prof. Hans Joosten of the Greifswald Mire Centre was invited to share the Greifswald expertise on the subject. He also visited the recently established Indonesian Centre of Excellence PLACE (Peatland Conservation and Productivity Improvement) at Sriwijaya University in Palembang, South Sumatera. The Greifswald Mire Centre and its tropical counterpart already agreed on future cooperation. An (Indonesian) student in the Greifswald study programme “Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation” is currently supporting the Indonesian Peatland Restoration Agency in developing guidelines for rewetting prioritization.


On grandfather’s traces

Axel Weber (left), grandson of the peatland scientist C. A. Weber, is visiting the Greifswald peatland library.

C. A. Weber’s grandson visits peatland library PeNCIL

09/06/2016   Special guests in the Peatland and Nature Conservation International Library (PeNCIL) in Greifswald: At 9th July Axel Weber, grandson of the pathbreaking peatland scientist C. A. Weber (1856-1931), and his wife paid a visit to get an impression of PeNCIL library stocks and research of the Greifswald Mire Centre. Greifswald peatland scientists greatly admire his grandfather: In 2002 John Couwenberg translated Weber’s „Über die Vegetation und Entstehung des Hochmoores in Augstumal [On the vegetation and development of the raised bog of Augstumal]” (in today’s Lithuania) into English and thus made it accessible to a wider audience. This year GMC members supported Lithuanian peatland scientists issuing a Lithuanian language edition. Since very recently, also the new book can be found at PenCIL, which is generously funded by the Bernhard and Ursula Plettner Foundation. To help Axel Weber tracking his grandfather’s traces even in Lithuania, GMC scientists also put him into contact to their Lithuanian colleagues.


Iconic peatland conservationist turns 75

Colloquium honours Michael Succow

30/04/2016   “He can fill people with enthusiasm whether they want it or not!” was one explanation for the outstanding lifetime achievement of nature and peatland conservationist Michael Succow end of April 2016. A colloquium at Greifswald University honoured the Right Livelihood Laureate on occasion of his 75th birthday. In her birthday letter German chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Michael Succow also to the newly established Greifswald Mire Centre. Erwin Sellering, Prime Minister of the Federal State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (MV), in his speech stressed that the GMC strengthens the reputation of Greifswald and MV beyond state borders. Several friends and companions such as Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Environment, entrepreneur Michael Otto and Jakob von Uexküll, founder of the Right Livelihood Award, honoured the long lasting commitment of the peatland scientist.


Integrate peatlands into EU policies

Workshop on better solutions to manage peatlands in the EU framework

23/04/2016  A few months after conclusion of the Paris agreement on Climate Change, a workshop in Brussels on 19th April 2016 addressesd the importance of peatlands and organic soils in the European Union and its Member States for biodiversity and climate change. “Peatland ecosystems are still suffering from the Cinderella syndrome” Professor Hans Joosten (Greifswald University) stated. “They contain disproportionally more organic carbon than all other terrestrial ecosystems and emit enormous amounts of CO2 when drained.” Furthermore, they provide habitats for specially adapted and rare species strictly protected by the EU’s bird and habitat directives. And yet, when it comes to policymaking – climate policymaking, in particular – peatlands remain largely out of sight. This leads to poor protection and conservation.
Within the project Peatlands in the EU Regulatory Environment the Michael Succow Foundation, Partner in the Greifswald Mire Centre (GMC), and Silvestrum have assessed the impact of EU law — on the environment, agriculture, and energy — on peatlands and organic soils in Member States, with special emphasis on case studies for Poland and Estonia. They brought together senior officers from the EU Commission, Member States’ governments, NGOs, research institutes and cooperates to call for joint action to better integrate peatland management and conservation into EU policies as instruments to improve their status across Member States.


Hot of the press!

New book “Paludiculture“

19/04/2016  GMC experts Dr. Wendelin Wichtmann, Christian Schröder and Prof. Hans Joosten edited the publication “Paludiculture – productive use of wet peatlands”. On 288 pages this book, which is released by Schweizerbart Science Publishers, provides extensive information on wet peatland utilisation (paludiculture) for policy making, management, practice and science. It explains the principles of wise peatland management and encourages the worldwide implementation of paludiculture as a unique form of sustainable utilisation of organic soils. The book can now be ordered at Schweizerbart Publishers.


A tonne of Typha

Insulation from the wetland next door

31/03/2016  Using cattail (Typha) from the area next door as insulation for housing is a showcase for paludiculture currently pursued near Anklam (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern). That’s why the recent cattail harvest there was enthusiastically supported by GMC coworkers. In the end twenty big bags were stuffed to the brim. About a tonne of dry Typha biomass was the result of harvesting about half a hectare of peatland. This paludiculture flagship project was initiated by the Dutchman Aldert van Weeren. An entrepreneur in nature tourism he is currently turning an old country house into a holiday destination for nature lovers using mostly ecological building material. The passionate ornithologist and tour guide is particularly happy that the Typha from next door does not only provide local and renewable building material but also reflects nature conservation by peatland rewetting. Currently the Typha biomass is being processed for cavity wall insulation by a small factory in Prenzlau.


HCS+: reports of GMC-experts ready

How the palm oil industry might go green

07/12/2015  GMC-experts contributed to the new "High Carbon Stock Study" (HCS+), commissioned by the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto group. The study is supposed to make the palm oil industry switch to more sustainable ways while defining which sort of lands should be considered off-limits for palm oil cultivation, first and for all peatlands. Read and download the Consulting report 5: Practical guidance to locate and delineate peatlands and other organic soils in the tropics by. Dr. Alexandra Barthelmes, in charge of the GMC's Global Peatland Database. Also available now: the „Independent Report from the Technical Committee“ co-authored by GMC-expert Prof. Hans Joosten. There are two press releases on the publishing of the report, "HCS+ Proposes a New Pathway to Sustainable Oil Palm Development" and "HCS+ gets support from key players in the palm oil industry and the Sabah Forestry Department".

The HCS+ met high media coverage including reports of The Economist , nature , Reuters/yahoo news, author and journalist Jonathon Porritt and Economist/youtube. The spread of oil-palm plantations in recent years has destroyed swathes of tropical forest in low-lying tropical areas of south-east Asia and Africa, releasing much of their trapped carbon into the atmosphere, chasing off indigenous communities and putting migrant workers under appalling conditions.