World Soil Day: Peatland conservation is an essential part of climate action

Note: This text is from the archive.
Published on:
Sequence number: No. 246/18
Topic: Climate
Publisher: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
Minister: Svenja Schulze
Term of office: 14.03.2018 - 08.12.2021
19th Leg. period: 14.03.2018 - 08.12.2021
Intact soils, in particular in peat bog areas, play an important role in global climate action solutions. The World Soil Day on 5 December raises awareness of this fact. The topic also plays an important role at COP24 this year.

Germany supports Global Peatlands Initiative with around 2 million euros

Intact soils, in particular in peat bog areas, play an important role in combatting global climate change. Today’s World Soil Day (5 December) is raising awareness of this fact. Peatland conservation is also a topic at the Climate Change Conference at Katowice: Tomorrow, on 6 December, Germany will present its projects in support of the Global Peatlands Initiative, which will be funded by the federal government with 2 million euros.

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze commented: "Peatland soils are enormous carbon sinks. Whenever they are drained, greenhouse gas emissions are released. Peatland conservation is an essential and basic component of climate action in many parts of the world. At the same time, it is important to re-wet peat bogs in a way that prevents the release of emissions while still allowing agricultural uses. We are currently working on a national peatland coservation strategy that will help us tap the climate action potential of peatlands in Germany. In addition, we want to help disseminate knowledge of peatlands around the world to allow different countries to learn from each other."

Germany is supporting the International Peatlands Initiative with just under two million euros of funding from the Federal Environment Ministry’s International Climate Initiative. The aim of the peatlands initiative is to save peat bogs as the world’s largest terrestrial carbon sink and thus prevent releases of CO2 into the atmosphere. Leading coordinator of the Global Peatlands Initiative is the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment). The initiative is organising a South-South knowledge exchange and promotes technology transfer of tried and tested peatland management procedures and methods which help in adapting to climate change and are part of mitigation efforts.

In Germany, more than 90 per cent of peatlands are classified as drained. Drainage was carried out in particular in the 1960s and 70s to cut peat and gain additional land for agricultural and forestry uses. As a result, the peat decomposes in these bog soils and greenhouse gases are released. This process leads to a leaching of the fertility base in these soils which can only be stopped by raising the water level on the affected areas. In order to use the soils for agricultural purposes sustainable soil management is required.

Globally, peat in bogs sequesters more CO2 than forests, even though peatlands only make up three per cent of the global surface area. Peatland soils store approximately 450 to 500 gigatonnes of CO2 in the form of peat. Current greenhouse gas emissions from drained or burnt peatlands are estimated to amount to five per cent of all anthropogenic emissions. This corresponds to approximately two billion tonnes of CO2 per year. Peatlands are also crucial for biodiversity conservation and for ensuring a secure hydrological cycle.

05.12.2018 | Press release No. 246/18 | Climate
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