News

2024

Salon: Caspar and peatlands

Landscape painted, but also recognized?

10/02/2024  "Meadows near Greifswald" is one of the most famous works by the painter Caspar David Friedrich. It shows Greifswald and will even be on display in his home town in this year of the romantic painter's 250th anniversary, only ... it does not show meadows. The view up to the town's silhouette falls on drained peatlands, then as today. In the salon series of the Caspar David Friedrich year, peatland professor Hans Joosten will talk about this discrepancy, about Adelbert von Chamisso's "Untersuchung eines Torfmoors bei Greifswald", published almost at the same time (1824), and about the relationship between man, nature and landscape. The salon evening on February 22 at 7 p.m. in Ellernholzstr. 1-3 is free of charge, but registration is required.

PaludiZentrale

accompanies wet peatland use on the way to market

24/01/2024 The PaludiZentrale project bundles the strength for more economic paludiculture potential from four recently launched model and demonstration projects (MuDs) for peatland protection and the utilization of biomass from rewetted areas. Jointly managed by the Thünen Institute Braunschweig and the University of Greifswald, it coordinates and ensures uniform scientific data collection and networking. It evaluates results across the board and develops suggestions for political and economic framework conditions as well as recommendations for action for implementation in practice and also takes care of the transfer of knowledge. The researchers will accompany the new model and demonstration projects in raising the water level at least close to the surface on raised and fen areas and growing paludicultures (Latin palus: swamp, cultura: agriculture). Another task is to advance the utilization of peat biomass towards practical use. The projects “Management and biomass utilization of wet fens in Brandenburg (WetNetBB)”, “Living Lab Teufelsmoor – climate and nature conservation-oriented wet management of peatland soils with innovative growth utilization in the Osterholz district (LivingLab Teufelsmoor)” and “Sustainable production and utilization of cattails on fen sites in Lower Saxony (RoNNi)” in Lower Saxony research on the cultivation of reeds and cattails and the wet meadows for use, for example, in building materials or as an energy source. The project “Sphagnum paludiculture as a sustainable agricultural use of raised bog soils (MOOSland)” revolves around the development of large-scale peat moss cultures for peat replacement.

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The rewetting of peatland reduces emissions that are harmful to the climate. In addition, climate-friendly, even climate-positive and locally renewable raw materials can be obtained from these areas for a circular economy as a replacement for previously used petroleum-based materials. The market for biomass from wet peatlands is still small. However, the large-scale rewetting of peatlands can only be successfully implemented with an economic perspective. This perspective is crucial to promote acceptance among both land owners and users and throughout society. That is why the four MuDs and the overarching technical coordination through the PaludiZentrale project are dedicated to building value chains from cultivation to utilization. They are aimed at the building materials, paper and fiber, horticultural substrates and energy production industries. PaludiZentrale ensures exchange and advice on the development of appropriate products, raw material properties, requirements and possible hurdles not only between the MuDs, but also with industry representatives, farmers and other actors. This ensures that scientists can collect and comprehensively evaluate data using a uniform and comparable methodology. This refers to cultivation and utilization, to business and socio-economic analysis. It also concerns the monitoring of long-term economic and ecological impacts, for example how greenhouse gas exchange, soils, hydrology, water quality and biodiversity develop on the rewetted areas. The researchers derive recommendations under which conditions paludicultures and their utilization in regional value chains can be economically worthwhile. This is followed by the transfer of knowledge in politics, practice and society, which is implemented jointly by the Michael Succow Foundation and the University of Greifswald, both partners in the Greifswald Mire Centre. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is supporting the ten-year project with funds from the Climate Transformation Fund (KTF); the project sponsor is the Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR). In addition, the PaludiZentrale project also aims to network the MuD projects via the so-called “PaludiNetz” with four pilot projects on moorland protection that are already underway and run by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection. (BMUV) is financed by Z-U-G gGmbH as the project sponsor and will also run for ten years.

Come to the construction site

Guided tour through peatland library for WWD

23/01/2024 To mark International Wetlands Day on February 2nd, “peatland pope” Prof. Hans Joosten is taking visitors - no, not into a peatland - but to the construction site, both analogue and online! To a building where inspiration will drip from the walls and tens of thousands of books in all genres and languages will be available on one topic: peatland. Renovation work is currently underway in the former lecture hall of the "Alte Chemie (Old chemistry)" at Greifswald, as this will be the new home of the  Peatland and Nature Conservation International Library PeNCIL. With 50,000 publications, this special collection is an important part of the Greifswald Mire Centre and of international importance.
In 2024, boxes of books shall move into the listed hall and be accessible barrier-free in the high room with two galleries. Statics, financing, pollution issues - there were and still are many challenges to overcome on the way from the vision of a splendid peatland library to its realisation. Hans Joosten will guide visitors through the wing, which was built at the end of the 19th century, and tell them about its history, the complex mercury decontamination and the new peatland contents. If you can't be there on WWD, you can follow a "small library construction site tour" on the Greifswald Mire Centre Facebook and Instagram accounts that day.
On site, the meeting point is in the inner courtyard of Soldmannstrasse 16 (https://www.google.de/maps/@54.0923148,13.3655688,19z?entry=ttu). As the number of participants is limited, please register at bibliothek@greifswaldmoor.de.

Some more info on World Wetlands Day
World Wetlands Day (WWD) has drawn attention to the importance of wetlands, including peatlands, every year on February 2 since 1997. On February 2nd the Ramsar Convention, the international agreement for the protection of wetlands, was adopted in 1971. Since last year, it has been recognized as an international day by the United Nations.
Due to pollution, drainage and agriculture, fires and overfishing, wetlands, including peatlands, are under threat or have already been destroyed worldwide. Yet they are guarantors of biodiversity and climate protection. Among other things, they offer people protection from drought and flooding, purify water and regulate the microclimate. In Germany, 95 % of former peatlands have been drained and are no longer recognizable as such today.

 

Start for MOOSland

For tiny moss on large scale

11/01/2024 With MOOSland, a small plant is supposed to make a big impact – peat moss. This can be grown as a renewable raw material to replace peat in horticulture with great benefits for the climate and the economy. Over the next ten years, MOOSland wants to implement the cultivation and utilization of peat moss biomass, which has already been researched in pilot projects, on a large scale. When grassland is being rewetted for climate protection reasons, the cultivation of peat moss offers an alternative to current drainage-based agriculture. Peat moss stores water in its cells, up to 30 times its own weight. Thus, it provides a renewable raw material with similar properties to the peat formed from it. It is therefore ideal as a peat substitute. MOOSland will now help to investigate and implement peat moss paludiculture on a large scale in an ecologically, economically and socially compatible way. MOOSland is a model and demonstration project by the University of Greifswald and seven partners from Lower Saxony. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is supporting the project with a total of around 12.5 million euros from the Climate Transformation Fund (KTF); The project sponsor is the Agency for Renewable Raw Materials (FNR).

 

Wet again – but no flooding

With benefit instead of damage

06/01/2024 It has rained a lot in large parts of Germany in the past few weeks. Many rivers have overflowed their banks, numerous areas are flooded, dikes are giving way and the water is threatening towns and cities. Countless rescue workers and helpers are fighting to limit the damage.
Our use of water is a key reason for the floods: water management today is designed to drain rainwater from the landscape quickly and in a controlled manner. That's why it is crisscrossed with a dense drainage network of ditches, underground drainage pipes, receiving waters, pumping stations, etc. Straightening watercourses also contributes to the water flowing away more quickly. However, when there is high rainfall, this drainage system is overloaded. The water cannot be drained away quickly enough and flooding is the result.
Modeling shows that higher winter precipitation and more heavy rain events are to be expected in the future due to climate change. It therefore becomes even more important to make flood protection safer for the future. Simply thinking about more stable and higher dikes is not enough. Rather, retention areas should be given much greater consideration because they have great importance and great potential for flood protection. Peatlands play a prominent role here. When drained, they can exacerbate flood situations if their peat is degraded and compacted. Wet peatlands, on the other hand, can absorb and store water like a sponge, thus delaying runoff. With a peat formation horizon (so-called acrotelm) in the uppermost decimetres, they are able to “breathe”, so the surface fluctuates depending on the water supply (so-called peat oscillation). Short-term flooding thus does not harm wet peatlands, even if they are used for agricultural purposes in paludiculture. This allows them to buffer flood peaks. This is also why they say “Peatland must be wet!”.