LIFE Peat Restore
Restoring peatlands, sequestering carbon
The EU aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by fifty-five percent until the year 2030 compared to 1990 and become carbon-neutral by 2050. The conservation of peatlands is one of the most effective measures to achieve this.
Especially the Baltic States as well as Poland and Germany have huge areas of peatlands, which are partly heavily degraded and need conservation and restoration. The project area is in a global emission hot spot where the potential to save greenhouse gas emissions is exceptionally high.
NABU is part of the LIFE Peat Restore project that aims to rewet 5,300 hectares of degraded peatlands in order to restore their function as carbon sinks.
To monitor the success of our restoration activities and demonstrate to National and EU decision-makers the importance of peatlands to climate change mitigation, greenhouse gas emissions are measured and evaluated using two techniques: the Greenhouse Gas Emission Site Type (GEST) approach and direct measurements with chambers.
LIFE Peat Restore is also raising public awareness of the importance of peatlands for climate change mitigation and the damages caused from drained, excavated and poorly managed peatland.
State of the art and guide to next steps on the restoration of peatlands
In 2021, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration started with the motto #GenerationRestoration. Right on time, LIFE Peat Restore and further four EU-funded projects across North West Europe, the North Sea region, and the Baltic Sea have published a new manual titled “Peatlands across Europe: Innovation and Inspiration”. It’s time to scale up action to save peatlands from degradation. Solutions are within reach.Download the manual
Map of the LIFE Peat Restore project sites - source: NABU
Abandoned peat cutting area shot with drone camera by NABU’s project partner Tallinn University at the Suursoo-Leidissoo site, Estonia - photo: Raimo Pajula
Forested transition mire, Suursoo-Leidissoo project site, Estonia - photo: Raimo Pajula
Installation of greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring plot, Suursoo-Leidissoo project site, Estonia - photo: Raimo Pajula
The LIFE Peat Restore team from Tallinn University setting up the vegetation monitoring plot in overgrowing transition mire, Suursoo-Leidissoo project site, Estonia - photo: Raimo Pajula
Sunset over Madiesenu Mire in Augstroze Nature Reserve, Latvia - photo: Māra Pakalne
Drainage ditch in the project site, Augstroze Nature Reserve, Latvia - photo: Agnese Priede
Spider webs taken at a photography workshop organised by NABU’s project partner University of Latvia in Madiešēnu Mire, Augstroze Nature Reserve, Latvia - photo: Mara Pakalne
Peat coring allows us to learn about the history of peatlands over thousands of years, as well as assess the peat depth and its decomposition rate. Madiešēnu Mire, Augstroze Nature Reserve, Latvia - photo: Māra Pakalne
Sundew (Drosera anglica), typical inhabitant of peatlands, Augstroze Nature Reserve, Latvia - photo: Māra Pakalne
Sunrise in Madiešēnu Mire, Augstroze Nature Reserve, Latvia - photo: Māra Pakalne
Common cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum), typical peatland species in Madiešēnu Mire, Augstroze Nature Reserve, Latvia - photo: Dace Znotiņa
Bird‘s eye perspective of the Pūsčia project site, Lithuania, taken by NABU’s project partner Lithuanian Fund for Nature. Here, you can see ongoing restorations to degraded peatlands - photo: Nerijus Zableckis
Photo of a spider and dew necklace shot at one of LIFE Peat Restore’s project sites in Lithuania - photo: Aleksandrs Galaks
Volunteers and project staff fill a drainage ditch using biomass removed from the site in order to restore the degraded peatland. Biomass removal is often needed in order to maintain the open mire habitat. Pūsčia project site, Lithuania - photo: Jūratė Sendžikaitė
Drainage ditch at the project site Słowiński National Park, Poland. Drainage systems degrade peatland habitats by drying them out, causing loss of typical peatland vegetation, as well as continuous carbon emission for as long as they remain dry - photo: Katarzyna Bociąg
Dead trees in regenerating peatland after the rewetting measures at Słowiński National Park, Poland. Most peatland types are not typically forested. Trees die as a result of rewetting measures, which allows peat forming vegetation to be restored - photo: Łukasz Pietruszynski
A drainage ditch at the project site Biesenthaler Becken, Germany. In order to restore the peatland and stop runoff of water, this ditch was filled in Autumn 2020 helping the peatland to recover - photo: Andreas Herrmann
Transparent and non-transparent chambers were used to measure GHG emissions from all project sites. Biesenthaler Becken, Germany - photo: Andreas Herrmann
In the main course of the water flow, the end of the drainage ditch and a T-shaped catchment ditch were filled with clay up to a depth of 2m - photo: Jonathan Etzold
Event „Restoring peatlands for climate” with panel discussion and photo exhibition at the Embassy of Estonia in Berlin - photo: Sebastian Hennigs
At the event, „Restoring peatlands for climate”, representatives of Government Ministries from Germany, Latvia and Estonia; the NABU president Jörg-Andreas Krüger, as well as peatland expert Dr. Hans Joosten and Christian Holzleitner, the EU Commission representative, participated in a lively panel discussion on peatland protection, restoration and the phase-out of peat extraction - photo: Sebastian Hennigs
Alar Streimann, the Estonian Ambassador, warmly welcomes the audience to the event, „Restoring peatlands for climate”. In front row NABU president Jörg-Andreas Krüger - photo: Sebastian Hennigs
LIFE Peat Restore
Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia
July 2016 to March 2022
Tallinn University, University of Latvia, Rucka Art Foundation, Lake Engure Nature Park Fund, Lithuanian Fund for Nature, Lithuanian Peat Producers Association, Klub Przyrodników
sponsored by / supported by
LIFE Climate Change Mitigation Programme and additional regional co-financers (visit the LIFE Peat Restore project website to see full list)
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
To reduce the emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere through the restoration of 5,300 ha of degraded peatlands in northern European countries.
Estonia (3300 ha): Suursoo-Leidissoo site
Latvia (248 ha): Augstroze Nature Reserve, Lake Engure Nature Park and Baltezers Mire Nature Reserve
Lithuania (450 ha): Amalvas, Sachara, Puščia, Plinkšiai and Aukštumala
Poland (1350 ha): Słowiński National Park
Germany (15.5 ha): Biesenthaler Becken
The measures seek to reestablish the natural function as a carbon sink of peatlands. 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 block the water runoff and raise the water table, the main restoration measures consist of dam-building and trench-filling (e.g. in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia). In specific situations, biomass removal or building floating islands, may be needed; or in extremely damaged conditions, where simply rewetting is not enough to enable re-growth of peat forming vegetation, sphagnum spreading is implemented.
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; as well as,
(b) direct measurements, with transparent and non-transparent chambers.
To learn more about monitoring techniques you can check this feature or this one here.
LIFE Peat Restore aims to raise public awareness of the importance of peatlands for climate change mitigation and the damages caused from drained, excavated and poorly managed peatland.
The organization of workshops and conferences and production of informational material seeks to promote awareness and dialogue between peatland stakeholders and policy-makers, and to convey the key message that the protection and restoration of peatlands is an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Today it is clearer than ever that we need to restore all drained peatlands worldwide by 2050. So, what are we waiting for? There are now plans to revitalize 689 hectares of peatland in Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany. more →
Intended as “a global rallying cry to heal our planet”, the UN has dedicated the years 2021 to 2030 to ecosystem restoration. Ringing in this next important chapter, it’s time to scale up action to save peatlands from degradation. Solutions are within reach. more →
An ecosystem is a complex of living organisms. NABU focuses on restoring ecosystems to their original state and important regulatory functions such as carbon sequestration. Ideally that's done by creating conditions in which the ecosystem can recover on its own. more →
Climate change and biodiversity loss are the most pressing challenges to humanity and people start to realize they are both sides of the same coin. NABU stands with science. We demand and support all efforts to reach a net-zero-carbon economy globally. more →
Ecosystem functioning needs to be seen as a global task: Therefore NABU is active in biodiversity hotspots and beyond. As part of the BirdLife network bird conservation has a long tradition for us. It’s efforts are directed to the whole biodiversity.