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250 boxes of sphagnum mosses for Venice

Pavilion on peat moss at the Biennale

3/3/2022 A pavilion with a peat moss installation is to be erected at this year's Venice Biennale. With the project named TURBA TOL - HOL HOL TOL the artist collective ENSAYOS and scientists from the Greifswald Mire Centre want to draw attention to the importance of peatlands for mankind. They are getting 250 boxes with the delicate plants underway. They will harvest the peat mosses by hand from 2nd-4th March on a cultivation and research area in the Hankhauser Moor in Lower Saxony. These will fill Chile's Biennale pavilion. There, especially in Patagonia, huge areas of previously intact raised bogs need to be protected from mining and infrastructure projects. Peat moss experts of Greifswald University and the peat plant Moorkultur Rahmsloh can provide these plants, which are strongly threatened and protected in natural habitats. Since 2004, both institutions have been conducting joint research on peat mosses. They installed an experimental area for the cultivation of peat mosses near Rastede in Lower Saxony, which today covers 17 ha. On Thursday and Friday 3rd-4th March, the scientists plan to harvest 250 boxes of peat mosses there together with the New York artist Christy Gast. A small art act to follow: The sphagnum mosses must arrive in Venice undamaged by 15th March! The Biennale itself begins on 23rd April and runs until 27th November this year. Half a million visitors are expected there. During this time, the mosses will live and grow as if in an artificial bog. A specially installed system will monitor and display the growth parameters of the peat moss carpet. It informs visitors on the carbon accumulated and the water needed. In order to acquire the necessary knowledge on peatland and climate issues for the installation of the pavilion, artist Gast is currently spending a residency in Greifswald. The city surrounded by peatland offers scientific expertise of the Greifswald Moor Centrum and, as the birthplace of Caspar David Friedrich, also a proud artistic heritage. The residency is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and the Municipal Office for Education, Culture and Sport of the University and Hanseatic City of Greifswald.

To be improved significantly

Better protection of natural carbon stocks in the EU

20/2/2022 Twenty environmental organisations under the umbrella of the German Nature Conservation Ring (DNR), including the Succow Foundation, partner in the Greifswald Mire Centre, demand  a better protection of natural carbon reservoirs and sinks - including peatlands - and to develop them in harmony with species and nature conservation. The critique is addressed to the Parliament and Council of the European Union. So far, the draft of the new Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation must be tightened up. Otherwise, the goal of climate neutrality at EU level by 2050 and at national level by 2045 at the latest cannot be achieved, the organisations stress.

They propose, among other things, to at least double the estimated target of storing 310 million tonnes of climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions by natural sinks.

Since sinks must sequester more carbon than sources release by 2035, reducing emissions from land use must also be an equivalent target, for example stopping peatland drainage and amplifying rewetting. The LULUCF Regulation must include the reporting of requirements for categories for forests, arable land, grassland and wetlands so that measures can be assessed and adjusted.

The EU Commission had presented its proposals for the amended LULUCF Regulation in mid-July this year as part of the "Fit for 55" climate package. This is intended to adapt the existing legislation to the new climate targets for 2030 and 2050. Now the EU Parliament and Council have to find and negotiate their positions in order to then bring about a legally binding decision. The Succow Foundation as a partner in the Greifswald Mire Centre, together with many other organisations, will continue to campaign for ambitious and comprehensive targets.

New publication

Book "Germany's Peatlands

24/1/2022 The book "Deutschlands Moore - Ihr Schicksal in unserer Kulturlandschaft" by Prof. em. Dr. Michael Succow, founder of the Succow Foundation, and Dr. Lebrecht Jeschke, published by Natur&Text, has just been printed. On 544 pages, it depicts the diversity of the country's mire landscapes - 115 locations from the salt marshes on the coast, the rain marshes of north-west Germany and the river valley marshes in the southern Baltic Sea region to the mires of the low mountain ranges, the Alpine foothills and the Alpine fringe. The book presents near-natural as well as degraded peatlands in all parts of Germany. In addition to the 908 photos, numerous tables, graphics, information boxes and maps make the complicated relationships understandable. Dr Greta Gaudig and Dr Franziska Tanneberger, directors of the Greifswald Moor Centrum, provide an outlook on the future of peatlands, their rewetting and sustainable use.


On International Wetlands Day 2.2.2022

The bog side of Greifswald

27/1/2022 Salt pan, coal ditch, swinging soil and peat in your teeth - for the International Wetlands Day on 2 February, people at Greifswald can get to know the bog side of the city on their own. The new brochure “Peatlands near Greifswald” by the Greifswald Mire Centre and the University and Hanseatic City of Greifswald offers two tours through this landscape, which is (mostly) not scary, but incredibly important for climate protection on our doorstep and worldwide. On a free guided tour starting at 4 p.m. in the Steinbecker Vorstadt polder peatland specialist Christina Lechtape and the municipal peatland manager Annie Wojatschke will explain why. The meeting point is the "An der Bleiche" pumping station near the harbour bridge. The brochure "Peatlands near Greifswald" is available as a download or for a nominal fee of one euro at the city information office, the city library and the Greifswald bookshops.

In the urban area of Greifswald there are approx. 472 ha of peatlands, which are mainly drained and cause approx. 7,600 t CO2-eq. per year. An enormous burden for the city's climate balance, but at the same time a great potential for reducing emissions. Greifswald has recognised this and last October hired Germany's first municipal peatland manager. That way, local peatlands can be revitalised with further positive effects for the surrounding area.

The 2nd February 2022 is not a date to be taken lightly - on the contrary: This year, World Wetlands Day (WWD) will be celebrated for the first time as an international day recognised by the United Nations. Since 1997, it has drawn attention to the importance of wetlands, including peatlands, every year on 2nd February. Back then in 1971 the Ramsar Convention was adopted, it is the international agreement to protect wetlands. However, since then, 35% of wetlands have been further destroyed by pollution, agriculture, overfishing, among other things. Wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests. Conservation and restoration actions urgently need to make up for the loss. "Wetlands Action for People and Nature" is therefore the motto of this year's WWD.

In the Nile catchment - peatlands?

Explaining the use of papyrus in Uganda  (Photo: J. Peters)

Conference of the Nile Basin Initiative with GMC

24/1/2022 The Nile Basin Initiative organized a 3-day conference on peatlands in the Nile catchment area from January 19th - 21st January in Kampala with the support of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Succow Foundation. The conference drew attention to the fact that the Nile and its outflow are strongly influenced by the water regulation of tropical peatlands in the upper catchment area on the Great Lakes in East Africa. It also made aware of these areas as vast carbon stores.

In an study on local peatland distribution in 2019 the Greifswald Mire Centre could show how much carbon these peatlands potentially store and could thus arouse the interest of the countries bordering the river. Thereupon, government and civil society representatives from Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan attended the conference. They now have a better understanding of where to find peatlands and how they work. The topics included a climate-friendly management of peatlands and value chains for products from wet peatlands. Papyrus, a widespread peatland plant, is traditionally harvested along the Nile and its high-quality fibers are processed. Given the growing population, this form of paludiculture is not sufficient for a livelihood of many. To ensure no further areas are drained, use in paludiculture must be further developed. With the conference closing the governments of the region widely agreed on this. The Succow Foundation is already working with partners and entrepreneurs in the DIAPOL-CE project on creative ideas for this.

Organic soils in national inventory submissions of EU countries

New report takes a critical look

21/12/2021 EU member states differ a lot in the quality of their mapping of organic soils and in the estimation of associated emissions – Nina Martin and John Couwenberg write in the new issue of the Proceedings of the Greifswald Mire Centre Organic soils in national inventory submissions of EU countries. The report takes a critical look at UNFCCC greenhouse gas reporting on emissions from agriculturally used organic soils for all EU countries (plus the UK) and presents a comprehensive analysis based on inventory data of the countries published in 2020. Where shortcomings in reporting were identified, it makes suggestions on improvements, including consistent use of the IPCC Wetlands Supplement (IPCC 2014). It also provides concrete area data and corrected numbers. Numbers have been compiled for all EU countries and available in a separate table (xls file).

For all on #WorldSoilDay:

Beautiful peatland illustrations!

05/12/2021 Complex, comprehensible and beautiful - with the help of illustrator Sarah Heuzeroth, the Greifswald Mire Centre has put peatland into the picture three times over - peatland intact, drained and in a future use in paludiculture. The illustration of the intact peatland shows how peat forms under the exclusion of water, how much carbon can be stored in this process, which animals live in the wet habitat and, simply, how beautiful it is. How much CO2, on the other hand, originates from drained peatlands used as grassland or arable land, and what size is the footprint of the associated dairy products, is depicted in the illustration of drained peatlands. A third illustration shows what peatlands in paludiculture can offer: Area for human land use, new habitat for rare, specialised peatland plants and animals, and a reactivated carbon store for more climate protection. The illustrations can be downloaded free of charge from the Greifswald Mire Centre website. To ensure that many people interested in peatlands can use the illustrations, they are also available in English and will soon be available in French, Polish, Russian and Spanish. The German version of the three illustrations combined is also available as a poster. In addition, the Greifswald Mire Centre and Sarah Heuzeroth developed four motifs as postcards. Besides sedge warbler, bulrush and sphagnum moss, a peat profile shows which plant remains can be found in which peat layers - including depth and time scale. The material is available to all interested licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND.


How to put peatlands into CAP Strategic Plans

Recommendation in new position paper

26/11/2021 The title says it all – Michael Succow Foundation, partner in the Greifswald Mire Centre, issued a new position paper Opportunities for Peatlands and Paludiculture in the EU Common Agricultural Policy (2023-2027) - Recommendations for EU Member States for their CAP Strategic Plans. It urges EU Member States to make paludiculture eligible for payments either direct, in eco-schemes or other. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as the EU’s largest public funding mechanism could thus be used to make a change for climate and ecology within the next five years. The CAP strategy must not be adapted neglectfully and maintain damaging business-as-usual practices since within the EU emissions from drained peatlands account for c. 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions. In paludiculture they offer a basis for a circular bioeconomy, for future resilient and profitable business models for farmers and landowners, and contribute to climate protection, biodiversity, water security, flood management and fire protection.


Peatland pavilion, peatland map, Michelle...

Without the protection and rewetting of peatlands, the global climate crisis cannot be countered. Peatland experts from Greifswald were able to make this clear to delegates, politicians, celebrities, practitioners and scientists from all over the world at the two-week World Climate Conference (UNFCCC COP26) from 31st October to 12th November in Glasgow. They are optimistic that the new knowledge about these climate protection potentials will now be incorporated into the policies and actions of many countries.

At the World Climate Conference in Glasgow, peatlands were presented for the first time in a separate pavilion organised by the Succow Foundation and the Greifswald Mire Centre together with the UN Environment Programme, IUCN UK Peatland Programme and other members of the Global Peatlands Initiative. The world peatland map developed at the Greifswald Mire Centre attracted visitors directly at the entrance. The twelve-day hybrid lecture programme offered a comprehensive overview of peatland science, protection and policy on all continents. Prominent visitors such as the former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme Inger Andersen, numerous ministers and other government representatives, as well as known environmental journalists such as Chris Packham of the BBC came by.

"Hundreds of delegates and observers to the Climate Change Convention looked at our huge peatland map. Many countries don't even know they have peatlands. Their representatives are taking away from Glasgow that peatlands are important for climate protection. Our presence here was as effective as peatlands are as carbon sinks." said Dr. Franziska Tanneberger, Director of the Greifswald Mire Centre. A special highlight was a water drop made of reeds and willow built by peatland experts from the University of East London, in which a sofa was placed - probably the most popular seat in the whole pavilion. This construction was an impressive eye-opener for many visitors as to what building materials from paludiculture can be used for.

The Succow Foundation and the Greifswald Mire Centre as a whole organised many events in the hybrid Peatland Pavilion e.g. "Organic Soils and Peatlands in the Baltic States: Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Measures and Paludiculture" on 8th November, "Peatland Protection in Germany" and "Peatlands in the Nile River Basin as a Nature-Based Solution" on 10th November, and the launch of a European Peatland Protection Initiative on 12th November. The Greifswald Mire Centre - with a large format printout on site and Dr. Alexandra Barthelmes as speaker in Greifswald - presented the world peatland map on 9th November.

The virtual Peatland Pavilion, which is in English, will continue to be available online to interested parties with multifaceted information on peatlands worldwide even after the World Climate Conference.

Milestone for peatland climate protection in Germany

Funding decisions for BMU paludiculture pilot project in MV

3/9/2021 Coinciding with the fieldday on paludiculture, Jochen Flasbarth, the State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), handed over funding decisions for the first of several new projects on paludiculture in Germany. The funding recipients are the University of Greifswald and the Landgesellschaft Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which will receive the majority of the funding (12.6 million euros). As part of the pilot project, it is planned to raise the water level of two previously drained peatland areas in M-V and thus largely reduce greenhouse gas emissions from these areas. In the polders Bargischow Süd near Anklam and Sandhagen near Friedland, the cultivation of paludiculture will be tested and investigated on several hundred hectares. A milestone for peatland climate protection in Germany!



Giving and getting funding for large scale paludiculture projects in Germany (Photo: St. Busse)