Due to drainage and over-exploitation, peatlands are among the most threatened ecosystems in Europe. Agriculture, horticulture, and thermal insulation of buildings are the main uses of the extracted peat. Peatland ecosystems are immensely important for climate change mitigation, as they store large quantities of carbon (carbon sinks). Climate change and peatland drainage results in peat oxidation and carbon release, and also increased risk of forest fires; therefore, to reduce negative impacts on peatlands, restoration of the hydrological regime is required. On a global scale, degraded peatlands cover more than 0.5 million km2 and represent about 30% of CO2 emissions caused by land use and land use change. The emission rates depend on peat temperature, groundwater level, and moisture content in the peat. In the EU, peatlands cover only 2% of the total area of cultivated land, but are responsible for more than 50% of the CO2 emissions from the sector. To date, studies on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from peatlands are not sufficiently represented in national GHG inventories, and the UNFCCC have suggested “further methodological work on wetlands, focusing on the rewetting and restoration of peatland, with a view to filling in the gaps in the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories”.
So far, there are no EU-wide recommendations for restoration of degraded peatlands as part of climate and biodiversity policies. Thus, there is a need for widening and accelerating the efforts for conservation of natural peat deposits and carbon resources accumulated, the development of methods for restoring degraded peatlands, and cost-effective monitoring and assessment of the impacts of the implemented measures, to obtain appropriate, credible data on GHG fluxes from peatlands on a national, European and global scale.
The LIFE PeatCarbon project aims to implement Climate Change Mitigation (CCM) measures in peatlands, and demonstrate innovative tools and applicable methods for greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring. This will be achieved by improving knowledge and enhancing the capacity for applying the CCM measures, demonstrating approaches for the climate-smart management of degraded peatlands, and monitoring the success of the measures implemented in the Baltic Sea region. Thus, the project will contribute to the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, and provide transferable and replicable tools for implementation in peatlands across the EU.
- Positive effects from the CCM measures in 4 project restoration sites on 5 414 ha (5 076 ha in Latvia and 338 ha Finland).
- Reduced CO2 emissions, comprising 37 117 tons CO2 eq. per year in Latvia and 3 500 tons CO2 eq. per year in Finland.
- Peatland succesfully restored in an earlier LIFE projects monitored in 3 sites in Latvia, on a total area of 5 213 ha, by applying field measurement, remote sensing (RS), habitat, hydrology and GHG monitoring, to follow the effect of peatland restoration.
- Replicable and transferable simulation model for cost-effective monitoring and estimation of project actions on GHG emissions.
- Tools developed for cost-effective monitoring and estimation of GHG emissions from peatlands.
- Internationally applicable Best Practice Book on implementation and monitoring of CCM measures, harmonised GHG measurement and data processing methods, and an ecosystem model for degraded peatlands in the Baltic Sea region.
- Results applicable for national GHG inventories in the Baltic Sea region countries.
- Increased awareness of authorities, decision makers, local people and experts, regarding the assessment of climate impact on peatlands before and after rewetting.