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20 Oct 2021, 13:18
Charlotte Nijhuis

German federal and state governments agree on moorland protection programme

Clean Energy Wire

The German federal government and state governments have reached an agreement about the protection of moorlands. Environment minister Svenja Schulze and agriculture minister Julia Klöckner stressed the role moorlands can play in climate protection by acting as a natural carbon sink. "Moorland protection is climate protection because the carbon stays in the soil,” Schulze said. “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.” The strategy aims to protect still intact moorlands and create financial incentives for the voluntary rewetting of drained or degraded moorland areas currently used for agriculture and foresting. The federal government will provide 330 million euros for rewetting projects until 2025, though binding, long-term funding is also needed beyond that period, the environment ministry writes. The strategy aims to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from peatland soils by five million tonnes of CO2 equivalents by 2030.

Instead of acting as carbon sinks, drained German moorlands today are greenhouse gas emitters. Germany's government recently failed to agree a moorland protection strategy due to a dispute between the environment and agriculture ministries. 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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