Eurosite at COP26: a message from Glasgow
The very first Peatland Pavilion ever, held at the Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow, was a success! Worldwide, the attention for the potential contribution of peatlands to fighting climate change is growing, from the far north to the southern hemisphere. Eurosite supported the organisation of two well-attended on-site events at the COP26: the Interreg Care-Peat event with the Peatland Restoration Management Group on 5 November 2021, and ‘Dialogues towards a European Peatlands Initiative’ hosted by the Irish Government on 12 November 2021, the final day of COP 26.
Dialogues towards a European Peatlands Initiative
To start with the latter, we were delighted to have representatives from national governments all over Europe on 12 November 2021. German Minister Svenja Schulze in-person at the event claimed: “To protect peatlands, we need to improve network activities and work together with regards to nature conservation, research and agriculture. With a European Peatlands initiative we can be stronger together”. Icelandic Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson and representatives from the Dutch and Lithuanian Governments embraced the initiative and expressed their interest in participating in a European network aimed at sharing national peatland strategies, research and restoration works. Our hosts, the Irish Ministers Malcolm Noonan and Pippa Hackett, were delighted to see the broad enthusiasm for collaboration on European peatlands, and kindly offered to host the first pan-European workshop on shaping the initiative in Ireland in the first half of 2022.
Eurosite warmly welcomes the initiative and looks forward to play a facilitating role on behalf of its members, together with our partners the Greifswald Mire Centre and Wetlands International. Peat areas in Europe are very diverse, but the challenges in different countries are often similar with regard to land management, land use, hydrology, policy, finance and communication. In the words of Harm Schoten, Eurosite Director: “We want to share knowledge and although there is good in-depth knowlegde on the recovery of peatlands, much of this knowlegde remains on a national level”.
The event was closed by Dianna Kopansky from the UN Global Peatlands Initiative with a call-to-action:
The shaping of a European Peatlands Initiative can:
- Gather governments of all European peatland countries to work together towards increasing the protection, rewetting, restoration and sustainable management of our peatlands in line with our commitment to implement UNEA4 Resolutions of Peatlands.
- Raise awareness for the importance of peatlands in fighting the interconnected climate and nature emergency.
- Acknowledge the different sectors working towards sustainable management of peatlands and connect them.
- Stimulate the exchange of knowledge on sustainable livelihoods, wet use of peatlands including recreation, paludiculture, education and help advance the research on alternative sources of growing media.
- Pilot financial incentives to close the financial gap for peatlands.
We call on people, governments, farmers, conservationists, businesses, bankers and scientists to gather to increase your ambition and actions for peatlands to meet the climate and nature targets!
The event was organised with a broad range of stakeholders and partners and was supported amongst others by the LIFE Peat Restore project, the LIFE MultiPeat project and the INTERREG Care-Peat project. At Eurosite, we are very grateful for this support, and for the help of our members NABU, Natuurpunt, Natural England, National Parks and Wildlife Services, Natuurmonumenten, Staatsbosbeheer, North Pennines AONB and Fédération des Conservatoires d’Espaces Naturels!
An open meeting of the INTERREG Care-Peat Peatland Restoration and Management Group
Eurosite organised another side-event in the Peatland Pavilion on 5 November 2021. Building on the Interreg NWE funded project Care-Peat, the transnational Peatland Restoration and Management Group (PRMG) was established within Eurosite in 2019. The main purpose of this group is to engage nature conservation organisations, and projects, involved in this field of work, in North-West Europe and broader. The role of the group is to share knowledge and experiences and to develop new (transnational) projects for peatland restoration in the long term. Eurosite organised a hybrid, open meeting of PRMG members with COP26 participants and an online audience.
The speakers presented examples of peatland restoration projects from various countries, answering the following questions: what has been achieved so far, what are major roadblocks for upscaling peatland restoration, what needs to be done politically to support work on the ground? The meeting was chaired by Paul Leadbitter of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, Chair of PRMG. Paul gave a presentation about peatland restoration work done in the North Pennines area (UK), an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Niall Ó Brolcháin (eGovernment Unit, Insight, Centre for Data Analytics, National University of Ireland, Galway) spoke about the importance of peatland restoration in climate change mitigation and peatland policy challenges, referring to the outputs of Care-Peat project. Chris Field from Manchester Metropolitan University presented an overview of Care-Peat case studies and investments realised in the UK, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Ireland. Terry Morley (National University of Ireland, Galway) gave a detailed insight on peatland restoration ground work done in Ireland. The final speaker was Letícia Jurema who presented lessons learnt from the LIFE Peat Restore project, and introduced a new project – LIFE MutiPeat coordinated by NABU, Germany.
The meeting was concluded by Wojtek Mróz of the Eurosite Secretariat, who pointed out that:
- Policy and decision makers should be aware that conservation comes first. Unsustainable use of peatlands must be phased out.
- Researchers should be mobilised to find optimal technical solutions and to guarantee long-term monitoring. Peatland restoration takes several decades.
- Upscaling of peatland conservation and restoration in Europe is urgently needed to meet global objectives. Bureaucracy on restoration planning should be avoided.
- Development of agricultural schemes aimed at rewetting of farmland on peat acknowledges the efforts done by farmers. Maintained by new business models and carbon credits schemes.
- Community engagement is crucial. A European Peatlands Initiative could support public and stakeholder involvement and raise awareness.