Protecting Peatlands and Soils - Preserving Ecosystems

Peatlands are organic soils that form in permanently wet wetlands. Peatlands cover only 3 percent of the world's land area, but store about twice as much carbon as the total biomass of all the world's forests. While the CO2 storage function of peatlands enjoys increasing media attention nationally and internationally, that of soils of other natural and used ecosystems plays only a subordinate role in society and politics. Yet even a small increase in the CO2 storage capacity of soils can make a significant contribution to global climate protection.

As a result of climate change, many ecosystems around the world are releasing considerable amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere: permafrost is thawing, peatlands are drying out, large areas of forest are burning, and the humus of fertile arable soils is degrading at an accelerated rate. These indirect effects of anthropogenic climate change amplify climate change dynamics and increase the risk of reaching tipping points with irreversible consequences for humans and nature.

Therefore, moorland soils in particular must be better protected and, if necessary, renatured. This applies specifically to agriculturally used peatland sites where the revitalization of the degraded peatland body appears feasible. An important prerequisite for sustainably successful renaturation in this context is a stable water supply to ensure the continuous accumulation of organic matter and to prevent the decomposition of peat – which will thereby prevent the release of carbon dioxide and methane.