Home » Paying for peat: rewetting peatlands in the Netherlands

Paying for peat: rewetting peatlands in the Netherlands

Marcel van Kammen_DSC1676_Valuta voor veen

On 30 June in the Netherlands the first approved carbon certificates for CO2 reduction projects in peatland were given to a farmer who is rewetting 32 ha peat meadow. From now on carbon certificates for peat rewetting are available for the Dutch voluntary market. These certificates are issued by the Dutch National carbon market. 

Active lowering of water levels in agricultural peat areas causes large quantities of peat to oxidize. As a result of this, each year, 7 million tonnes of CO2 are released in the Netherlands. In addition, there is also desiccation in existing natural peat areas resulting from lower groundwater levels and oxidation of peat. Healthy, biodiverse ecosystems can offer society many benefits. For instance, naturally waterlogged peat provides unique nature and additionally can store vast amounts of CO2.

Carbon certificates
In the project ‘Valuta voor veen’ (Paying for peat) CO2 emissions are reduced by raising the water level in peat areas, so that oxidation of the peat and thus CO2 emissions are avoided. This method is applied to peat meadow areas with a sufficiently thick peat layer (‘raw peat’) and for the conservation and development of new nature areas (nature restoration and expansion in peat areas).

The (Dutch) Frisian Federation for Environmental Protection has taken the initiative for Paying for Peat, in order to collaborate with farmers or other landowners to increase ground water levels of peat meadows and thus reducing CO2 emissions. Through a methodology agreed under the Foundation National Carbon Market these emission reductions are calculated and verified and form the basis of carbon certificates. These certificates can be traded in the market, which contributes to compensating the farmers and landowners financially for reduced (agricultural) productivity due to the higher groundwater levels (but in dry years the rewetting leads even to higher economic yields!).

National Carbon Bank
One issued certificate stands for 1 ton of CO2 reduction. Dutch NGO’s, the Federations for Environmental Protection, bring sellers and buyers together in the newly founded Dutch Carbon Bank; the value of one certificate in the first year is 70 euro. The payment for the farmer is between 330 – 800 per hectare, depending on details of the local situation. In the near future certificates can be traded online.

Reducing CO2 emissions
Reducing CO2 emissions in peatland areas is currently not an obligation in the Netherlands. It is, however, part of the Paris Climate Agreement in a broader context. This EU regulation states that each country should ensure that emissions from these activities do not lead to a net increase in CO2 emissions. Each country has the freedom to take specific measures for this at national level. An agreement has also been made at EU level to report these emissions from 2021. This EU policy therefore encourages a reduction of emissions from peat oxidation and an increase in the amount of carbon captured by peat growth.

More information about the Paying for peat – methodology (Note: This English version is only available for information purposes. The method is only valid for submission of project plans in The Netherlands.):

Contact: Arnoud de Vries, a.de.vries@fml.frl, +31686868846

Congratulations to the buyer for purchasing certificates from farmer Miedema, it symbolizes the first transaction between a provider of Carbon Certificates and the first buyer.

Photo credits: Marcel van Kammen