Miguel Geraldes

TERRA, IGOT, University of Lisbon, Portugal


There is a lot of science going on right now, with a lot of tools that are perfecting those measuring. For instance, in the REWET project we have Eddy-Coviarance towers that can measure gas changes in larger areas. We are also measuring on the field with static chambers, some portable and some field. Data are adapted regionally to different types of climates and soils. A lot is going on and the numbers are quite accurate. They are powerful info to use in peatland management.

Peat must be formed in situ, and cannot be a sediment. Normally the water regime on a peatland is very slow. If the river is meandering and the water uses energy, sometimes peat formation can be possible. Also, the percolation from both banks can also happen and sometimes in the river you have mineral soils on one bank and on the other bank you can have some organic soil. Peatland valleys can be also tough to map because some valleys can be really steep and if you use remote sensing you can have a parallax effect which can be tricky to solve, but there are tools to do this. Some of the most beautiful peatlands I know are on valleys.

There are a lot of tools. Peatland Atlas has been designed for everyone, and the Global Peatlands Initiative also has a lot of valuable information. I would show data, one of the things that can raise awareness. I would also show the data on the emissions: emissions from drained peatlands are huge, and after what the 2018 report from IPCC showed we do not have much time to lose. Such effective ecosystems storing carbons must be preserved, and peatlands should be the priority ones. Just show the authorities and public bodies data because they are overwhelming.

The Peatland Atlas might come in handy as a tool for the REWET partners involved in peatland conservation or restoration, to show third parties about the importance of peatlands. It contains simple facts & figures, shown in a very instructive and friendly way, and highlights not only the consequences of the destruction of these unique habitats but also the potential of wet peatlands for mitigating climate change. This can prove very useful when the REWET partners have to explain or convince other people or entities about the benefits of the ongoing project.

The peatland world has been building teams since the 2000s and is now very active. Despite the growing myriad of people involved in conservation and restoration projects around the World, there are a couple of central entities whose activity should be followed by the ones interested in pursuing conservation/restoration targets in peatlands. Those entities are:

  • l The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), especially the Global Peatland Initiative (GPI) and the Global Peatland Assessment (GPA) reports;
  • l The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1992);
  • l The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);
  • l The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 1992) and the recent Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework;
  • l The International Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPCC);
  • l The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD, 1992);
  • l The G20 Global Land Initiative (GLI);
  • l The United Nations Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, 1971);
  • l The United Nations Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health;
  • l The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030;
  • l The United Nations World Heritage Convention (UNESCO, 1972);
  • l The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), especially the FAO Peatlands and Climate Change Mitigation Group for Organic Soils and Peatlands Mitigation Initiative;
  • l The United Nations 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • l The European Commission’s Green Deal and Biodiversity Strategy.

A simple search merging those entities and the keyword “peatland” can bring plentiful results, chiefly with an eye on the climate, biodiversity, water, soil and livelihood services that peatlands provide. All of them hold frequent webinars in different parts of the World and produce abundant free deliverables to download. They also give good opportunities to network. Their social media accounts are very lively as well and provide constant updates on events and pertinent topics. 
Too there are some peatland-specialized groups or initiatives that are worth a close look: 

  • l The Greifswald Mire Centre;
  • l The International Peat Society;
  • l The International Mire Conservation Group;
  • l The IUCN UK Peatland Programme;
  • l The MedWet Initiative.

There are more, of course, but those are the ones I could think of right now.

The first thing is that you should work in a network, reaching out to local people and centres working with peatland and, second, get some guidelines because peatlands are really easy to get damaged. If you get the water out of the peatland, the air of the atmosphere will convert the peatland from a carbon sink to a carbon source.