01 Sep 2021, 13:21
Julian Wettengel

Environment ministry proposes strategy to protect German moorland

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s environment ministry has presented a draft national moorland protection strategy to increase their climate action potential and lower greenhouse gas emissions from drained moorland. “Moorland protection is good for the climate because the carbon remains in the soil,” said state secretary Jochen Flasbarth. “It is good for Germany's biodiversity because many species can only be found in peatlands […]. And peatland protection helps in adapting to climate change, because it can mitigate the consequences of heavy rain, floods, drought or heat.” Measures proposed in the strategy include renaturation and re-wetting of degraded and drained areas, for example by changing peat soils used as farmlands into wet cultivation areas.

The strategy was not adopted unanimously by the government. Flasbarth said it was widely backed, but the agriculture ministry had reservations. Talks on the strategy had failed last month. The agriculture ministry wanted the strategy to prioritise the protection of natural moorlands rather than of those used for agriculture. The state secretary said he was confident that an agreement would be found based on the environment ministry’s proposal by autumn – likely by the next government after the election.

Instead of acting as carbon sinks, drained German moorlands today are greenhouse gas emitters. To change this, the government has decided to finance the re-wetting of peat soils with up to 2.1 billion euros until 2030 under the Climate Action Law. Germany’s Commission for the Future of Agriculture (ZKL) found in its 2021 report that rewetting all agricultural moorlands in Germany would cost 1.35 billion euros per year.

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