More wet peatlands than expected
New study in Nature
The global loss of wetlands is smaller than previously assumed, according to the recent study Extensive global wetland loss over the last three centuries in the internationally renowned scientific journal Nature. Peatland scientists from the University of Greifswald, partner in the Greifswald Mire Centre, have contributed data from their Global Peatland Database and from the historical holdings of the local peatland library. The results now help to better assess the climate impact of peatlands, e.g. to quantify the change in carbon storage and in methane emissions. It also allows conclusions to be drawn about the impact of wetland loss and how wetland restoration can be better planned .
The study by an authors' collective led by Standford University shows that only 21-35% of the world's wetlands have been lost since 1700, instead of 50-87% as previously thought. In a historically first reconstruction, the scientists combed through thousands of records of drainage and land-use change in 154 countries for the study to compare them with the current distribution of drained and altered wetlands to get a picture of the state since 1700.
"In terms of area, the loss is not as great as is often claimed. What seems to be good news at first glance, however, should not deceive us. Worldwide, about four million km² of wetlands have disappeared, of which about 0.5 million km² are wet peatlands. However, drained peatlands are responsible for 4-5% of global greenhouse gas emissions: they are relatively small areas but with huge consequences!" says Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans Joosten, emeritus professor and co-author of the study.
On World Wetlands Day
Peatlands via app
On the occasion of the Worl Wetlands Day on 2nd February, Greifswald has "Peatland on your ears". On this day, for the first time an audio walk will be published via the local Greifswald App and will take you to the peatlands around Greifswald. So - download the app onto your smartphone or tablet - and off you go.
The walk across the "meadows near Greifswald", which Caspar David Friedrich captured in his painting of the same name, is a bit like "I spy with my little eye". There is much to discover that is not visible at first glance. For instead of meadows, the painter's painting actually shows peatlands outside the city gates.
All those interested are cordially invited to try out the peatland walk on the World Wetlands Day on Thursday 2nd February. Together with Lord Mayor Dr. Stefan Fassbinder, the new professor for "Peatland Research / Peatland Science" at the University of Greifswald, Gerald Jurasinski, the SPD Member of Parliament Anna Kassautzki and the organic farmer Dörte Wolfgramm-Stühmeyer, they will walk across the Steinbecker Suburban polder. They will be accompanied by Christina Lechtape from the Succow Foundation, partner in the Greifswald Mire Centre, which was in charge of developing the walk in the MoKKa project, Thomas Beil, managing director of the Greifswald Agricultural Initiative, and moor manager Annie Wojatschke, who contributed to the audio walk. The meeting point is at 2 pm at the Steinbecker Vorstadt pumping station - with smartphone in hand and downloaded app, of course.
The audio walk is based on the brochure Moore bei Greifswald, published by the Succow Foundation.
Brand new: peatland professor and peatland professorship
Welcome to Dr Gerald Jurasinski
16/01/2023 With Dr. rer. nat. Gerald Jurasinski, the new W3 professorship for Peatland Science at the University of Greifswald has been filled since the beginning of 2023. This makes the University of Greifswald the only university with a peatland science professorship in Germany. The creation of the professorship, agreed in 2018 by the University of Greifswald and the state government of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (M-V), takes the tradition and excellence of Greifswald's peatland research, as well as the high proportion of peatland in the state's land area into account.
The Greifswald Mire Centre, in which the University of Greifswald is a partner, is extremely pleased about the strengthening of research and teaching: "We have been engaging to establish this position with many allies since 2015 and are very grateful to all supporters that the professorship could finally be filled with Gerald Jurasinski," Dr. Greta Gaudig and Dr. Franziska Tanneberger from the Greifswald Mire Centre say. Dr. Gerald Jurasinski has ambitious plans for the professorship: "We need to make much faster progress in peatland rewetting. Our research will show how we can do better. In doing so, we not only want to generate knowledge, but also disseminate it and further develop Greifswald as a central hub of peatland expertise. Among other things, we want to continue building a network with many national and international partners that measures greenhouse gas emissions and other ecosystem services of peatlands in M-V and beyond. Our results will help us to act in the right way, especially with regard to climate protection."
Those interested can meet Dr Jurasinski at the public lecture “A brief history of research on greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands in northern Germany” on 17th January at 6 pm at the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg or during a short walk across Greifswald's peatlands on the occasion of World Wetlands Day on 2 February. The walk starts at 2 p.m. at the Stralsunder Straße bridge at the harbour.
For more information, see the GMC press release on the peatland professorship.
Out now: Peatland Atlas
The first ever - hot off the press and online
10/01/2023 Peatlands are not scary, they are incredibly important - the fight against the climate crisis, biodiversity conservation and simply for all of us. This is still known far too little. With the Peatland Atlas - Facts and Figures on Wet Climate Protectors, the publishers Heinrich Böll Foundation, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and the Michael Succow Foundation, partners in the Greifswald Mire Centre, are working to change that. On Tuesday 10th January, they will present the Peatland Atlas in a press conference in Berlin and online.
On 50 pages and with 52 illustrations, the Peatland Atlas 2023 not only highlights the history of peatlands, their importance as unique habitats for the global climate and biodiversity, and their destruction with local and global consequences. It also explains how we can protect peatlands and restore their functionality. It shows the potentials of wet peatlands for climate protection and opportunities for their wet use, paludiculture, and at the same time how politics and society can act now.