LIFE Multi Peat
A project to restore and manage peatlands in Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany
Healthy peatlands matter! Peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store worldwide. However, damaged peatlands are a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. On a global scale, the EU is the second largest emitter of GHG from drained peatlands. By rehabilitating the hydrological system of degraded peatlands, the project ‘LIFE Multi Peat’ plans to transform an unfavourable situation into a favourable one – carbon dioxide emissions from peatlands on the project sites will be reduced instantly. In the long term, the conditions to restart the sequestering functions of the peatlands will be reestablished.
But what does the acronym ‘Multi Peat’ stands for? Multi-stakeholder Landscape and Technical Innovation leading to Peatland Ecosystem Restoration: This is the full name of the five-year LIFE project that aims to contribute to the goals of EU climate change mitigation policy through the restoration of peatlands in Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany.
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The specific LIFE Multi Peat objectives are threefold
➣ The large-scale practical restoration of degraded peatlands will lead to the cessation of significant GHG emissions from the project sites. As a result of the rehabilitation of the degraded peatland sites, their CO2 emissions will be reduced. In the long term, the conditions to restart the sequestering functions of the peatlands will be reestablished. Moreover, by monitoring the impact of the rewetting measures, the project will contribute to the body knowledge on the techniques and tools for the measurement of GHG emissions.
➣ The development of a knowledge base and replicable techniques are essential for halting further significant emissions from different classes of degraded peatlands and ultimately restoring their potential as carbon sinks.
➣ The third objective is the development of effective policy tools, such as a peatland policy toolkit that includes an EU-wide policy catalogue, data portal, and a policy development tool. The tool will bring together relevant information for policy makers, conservationists, other experts, and the general public in one place.
The partially degraded raised bog Torfowiska Orawsko-Nowotarskie is to be rewetted as part of LIFE Multi Peat - photo: Tomasz Wilk
The 'Häsener Luch' is located near Gransee Germany: project measures are to take place on an area of 20 hectares over the next few years - photo: Jonathan Etzold / NABU
Common tree frog: On the Dutch project site this species declined in the last years. With the project measures, we expect the species to return - photo: ondrejprosicky - stock.adobe.com
Alder swamp forest in Ham, Belgium: A small patch is in a good state during winter, but the water level drops severly in summer - photo: Cyr Mestdagh / Natuurpunt
The National University of Ireland is part of the EU project LIFE Multi Peat: Here you can see the Irish project area - photo: Niall O'Brolchain
LIFE Multi Peat
Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany
2021 to 2026
Natuurpunt, National University of Ireland, Natuurmonumenten, Eurosite, Klub Przyrodników, Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków (OTOP), NABU
sponsored by / supported by
LIFE Climate Change Mitigation Programme
With this project we are contributing to the following SDGs
Directly: SDG 12, SDG 13 and SDG 15
Indirectly: SDG 3, SDG 6 and SDG 17
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Objectives and scope
➣ Restoration of degraded peatlands: improving hydrological situation (e.g. drainage ditches), removing trees and shrubs / Improving the state of habitats and relevant species
➣ Establish paludiculture solutions: feasibility studies in Belgium and Germany
➣ Develop an EU-wide toolkit to catalogue peatland projects, policies and data
➣ 689 ha of degraded peatlands restored
➣ Up to 50% reduction of Global Warming Potential on all sites (3600 t CO2-eq./yr)
➣ Strategies for paludiculture (also as buffer zones) in Germany and Belgium
➣ Improved communication and coordinated collaboration amongst EU peatland projects
➣ Recommendations for scaling up peatland restoration
Planned restoration activities
➣ Poland (252 ha): Orawa Bogs
➣ Germany (20 - 60 ha*): Häsener Luch
* The central 20 ha peatland owned by NABU is planned to become a living peatland again. The project also expects to improve the peatland conditions of the rest of the nature reserve which covers a total of around 60 ha.
➣ Belgium (130 ha): Vallei van de Grote beek
➣ Netherlands (30 ha): Witte Veen
➣ Ireland (217 ha): Connemara
The restoration measures seek to reestablish the natural function of peatlands as carbon sinks. This mainly entails rewetting drained areas, though actions will vary according to individual conditions of each project site. For example, in some areas shrubs and trees will be removed and active planting of peat forming vegetation will be carried out.
To assess the climate effect of the restoration, the project is using two techniques:
(a) the Greenhouse Gas Emission Site Type (GEST) approach which estimates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the sites based on vegetation composition and water levels
(b) direct measurements, with transparent and non-transparent chambers
From a longer time perspective, GHG emissions will be measured by the closed chamber technique, 3 sites per country:
➣ Reference site without restoration activities
➣ Rewetted site directly affected by restoration activities
➣ Restored site (5-10 years ago)
Environmental parameters will be recorded: water level, soil temperature, soil moisture and photosynthetic active radiation by automatic loggers for modelling approaches.
LIFE Multi Peat will set monitoring plots, perform a final vegetation mapping and calculate the GHG budgets during and after the restorations.
‘Branding’ LIFE Multi Peat via increasing the recognition of the project name, its main goals and outputs to create broader support for peatland restoration and conservation across Europe
➣ Increasing knowledge
Sharing and exchanging the experience and lessons learned from the project implementation, including paludiculture techniques, peatland restoration measures as well as GHG monitoring instruments: The project’s communication activities will contribute to the body of knowledge on peatland restoration, reduction of carbon emissions, and increase of carbon storage. Moreover, the creation and dissemination of an EU-wide policy catalogue will improve the public knowledge and awareness of peatland issues, including policy and environmental information.
➣ Raising awareness / influencing attitude
As part of this objective, the goal is to showcase how healthy peatlands contribute to mitigating climate change by functioning as carbon sinks, halting drainage and GHG emissions. Moreover, raising awareness in the decision-making arena by fact sheets, key policy analyses and recommendations, and national reviews of the CAP’s impact on peatlands and GHG emissions is important to ensure informed decisions made by policy-makers in the future.
➣ Changing behaviour
Project partners will attempt to affect behavioral change among target groups to achieve best practices for paludiculture and peatland restoration and management, as well as regarding the development of future peatland policy.