Peatlands in the Nordic-Baltic region

Peatlands in the Nordic-Baltic region

By Tuula Kurikka and Jari Ilmonen, Parks & Wildlife Finland

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands provides a framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The Convention recognises the importance of peatlands for climate change mitigation and has called upon countries “to minimise the degradation, as well as promote restoration, and improve management practices of those peatlands and other wetland types that are significant carbon stores, or have the ability to sequester carbon”.

The Nordic Baltic Wetlands Initiative (NorBalWet) is a Ramsar regional initiative with as participants Denmark, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the Russian Federation. NorBalWet serves as a communication network to exchange information and experiences, thereby enhancing multilateral and transboundary cooperation by embracing a problem-oriented and practical approach to improve wise use and conservation of wetlands, in particular the network of Ramsar sites and other protected areas.

In 2013, the NorBalWet Initiative initiated a project to assess the importance of Nordic Baltic peatlands for climate regulation. As a result, a review of the importance of peatlands in the Nordic and Baltic countries for mitigation of climate change and potentials for restoration was published, followed by a related factsheet and a film (see below). The main finding of the project is that natural peatlands store huge amounts of carbon and they should be kept wet for keeping the carbon stored, and rewetted when necessary to stop the carbon leaking from the drying and decomposing peat. In the studied Nordic-Baltic countries, 44% of the peatland area has been drained and each country has potential for reduction of the peatland-related CO2-emissions by restoration and rewetting. For all results, visit the NorBalWet website.

During the Paris conference on climate change, the film “Peatlands – climate regulation and biodiversity” was launched. This film is focusing on the importance of preserving and restoring peatlands and gives examples of restoration projects from the Nordic and Baltic countries.

Photo: Restored Kauhaneva peat in Finland. © Jari Ilmonen, Parks & Wildlife Finland