Peatlands highlighted in the EU Green Week

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This year’s EU Green Week (30 May – 5 June) focuses on the implementation of the European Green Deal. Wetlands International Europe has been participating in various activities, including promoting the role of peatlands and paludiculture in achieving the EU’s climate and environment goals.

Healthy peatlands, whether pristine, restored or sustainably managed, can contribute as nature-based solutions to achieving the Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. Peatlands are some of the world’s most effective carbon stores and act as water purifiers and reserves in their natural, restored or sustainably managed states. In addition, they are of global importance for biodiversity conservation at genetic, species and ecosystem levels, and provide habitats and refuges for endangered species in a changing climate.

Healthy peatlands are inconsistent with drainage-based agricultural land use. If productive land use needs to continue on peatlands, a paradigm shift is required involving new concepts, crops and techniques, such as climate-adapted and sustainable wet-agricultural production techniques, like paludiculture, as well as adjustments to the current agricultural policy framework. Additionally, forestry practices on peatlands need to better take into account the soil properties and their effect on habitats and greenhouse gas emissions.

We asked Hans Schutten, Programme Head for Climate Smart Land Use at Wetlands International, to talk briefly about peatlands in the EU Green Deal (video below), asking for his message with regards to the upcoming EU Nature Restoration Law. Hans is hoping to see peatlands included in the legally binding targets that the EU is expected to set, mentioning that 8% of degraded peatlands in need of restoration can be found outside Natura 2000 areas and the protection that this provides.

Watch the 11 minute interview below, an introduction to a series of conversations with Hans Schutten on the role of peatlands in different EU policies.

Across these conversations, the audience will learn that appropriate climate and biodiversity policy measures must minimise emissions from peatlands due to land use (agriculture and LULUCF). There needs to be coherence across different EU policies, with biodiversity protection and restoration, climate (especially the LULUCF regulation) and agricultural policies aligned to achieve the EU environmental and climate objectives. Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments currently subsidise the drainage of peatlands for agriculture, causing huge environmental losses and damage and emitting up to 30 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year. Payment systems and incentives need to change so that landowners and farmers benefit from peatland restoration and paludiculture from different sources (CAP, Carbon Farming, Biodiversity premium).