Carbon credits from peatland rewetting
Climate - biodiversity - land use

Science, policy, implementation and recommendations of a pilot project in Belarus

Ed.: Franziska Tanneberger; Wendelin Wichtmann

2011. XII, 223 pages, 41 tables, 30 info boxes, 100 mostly coloured figures, 21x28cm, 1090 g
Language: English

ISBN 978-3-510-65271-6, bound, price: 39.80 €

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climate policycarbon creditsbelaruspeatlandrewettingMRV-abledataconclusiongreenhouse gasghgkyoto protocol restorationmirebog


Synopsis top ↑

Drained peatlands account for only 0.3% of the global land area. At the same time, drained peatlands are the source of a disproportional 6% of total anthropogenic CO2-emissions; a problem that needs to be addressed. The ‘hotspots’ are well known: Southeast Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, parts of the United States and Northeast China. The solution is obvious: Restore high water levels in peatlands. But many questions remain.

How does rewetting affect greenhouse gas fluxes? What about methane? Are the emissions measurable, reportable and verifiable? Are emission reductions from peatland rewetting creditable towards Kyoto Protocol commitments? Can they be sold on the voluntary carbon market? How does rewetting influence biodiversity? And, may rewetted peatlands still be used productively?

Belarus ranks 8th among the world's countries in terms of peatland CO2 emissions and occupies 3rd place in CO2-emissions per unit land area. In recent years, tens of thousands of hectares of drained peatlands in Belarus have been rewetted.

This volume provides a synthesis of the challenges encountered and solutions adopted in a pilot project conducted in Belarus between 2008 and 2011. It presents data and conclusions from the project and relates basic principles to advanced applications, integrating science and politics, ecology and economy. The experiences and recommendations for peatland restoration set forth in this volume will inspire practitioners, land-use planners, scientists and politicians alike.

A russian language edition of this book is also available.

Compte-rendu: Tourbières Infos N° 43 top ↑

La Biélorussie est classée au 8e rang parmi les pays du monde en termes d'émission de CO2 par les tourbières, en raison des dizaines de milliers d'hectares de tourbières drainées qui ont été remises en eau. Cet ouvrage est consacré aux effets de la remise en eau des tourbières sur les émissions de CO2. Les auteurs s’interrogent sur le lien entre remise en eau et gaz à effet de serre, et son influence sur la biodiversité. Après avoir dressé un état des lieux des tourbières biélorusses, ils présentent les tenants et les aboutissants du projet pilote mené dans le pays entre 2008 et 2011. Ils proposent également des exemples d’expériences menées et des recommandations pour la restauration des tourbières.

Tourbières Infos N° 43

Review: PEATLANDS International 2/2011 top ↑

Emissions from drained peatlands contribute significantly to global warming. In the last century, there was large-scale drainage of peatlands for land reclamation in most countries. These areas were used for agricultural and forestry purposes and partly for peat extraction. However, the environmental impact caused by draining and land use change was either not known or neglected. Especially in the last two decades we have observed globally increasing awareness of global change issues and, through research, increased our knowledge of land use induced emissions. Society debates on methods to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

While peatlands cover only 3% of the land surface, they are responsible for 6% of the global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Peatlands in Southeast Asia, Central and Eastern Europe are amongst the well known hot spots. It is also well known that rewetting of drained peatlands reduces the emissions. The topic of the book “Carbon Credits From Peatland Rewetting” is how to put this good idea into practice.

This book presents the results of an implementation project entitled “Restoring peatlands and applying concepts for sustainable management in Belarus – climate change mitigation with economic and biodiversity benefits” — a large-scale nationwide experiment in peatland rewetting. The goal of the project was to test – with the help of the project partners – whether it is possible to rewet Belarusian peatlands and achieve economic and ecological benefits from this activity.

The book is written for scientists and decision makers, as well as for climate change politicians and peatland site managers. There are ten chapters. The introduction and foreword elucidate the societal relevance of peatland rewetting as a mitigation activity in climate change policy. Chapter 2 describes the situation of peatlands in Belarus. With 14.2% of the state area occupied by peatlands, Belarus belongs to the sub-set of countries that are very rich in peatland. These areas were used for agriculture over long time spans and were to a large extent systematically drained in the period 1960 – 1970s. Key terms (e.g. mire, peatland) and other important concepts are explained in separate text boxes and enable the reader not only to use each chapter as a reference for its specific topic, but also to use the whole book as a textbook on peatland ecology and management.

Chapter 3 deals with peatlands and climate. First, the carbon cycle and the processes for gas formation are explained. The factors controlling gas formation and exchange with the atmosphere are discussed. Here, as in all other parts of the book, the scientific knowledge presented is always up-to-date and knowledge gaps are identified. The methods for measuring gas emissions in peatlands are introduced. The text box explaining how to calculate the global warming potential of a peatland site is especially valuable for students and scientists who want to carry out similar calculations for other sites. But this box also addresses decision makers and politicians, who can learn from it that the calculations behind the global warming potential data are transparent and reliable.

For calculations of the global warming potential of a site or of the peatlands within large regions, proxies which are related with the factors controlling gas formation are needed. The vegetation is such a proxy because vegetation forms integrate, within their species composition, the site conditions and especially water levels. For many vegetation forms, gas emission measurements are available from the literature.

The GEST (Greenhouse Gas Emission Site Type) approach connects the available emission data with vegetation forms and makes them available for calculations of the global warming potential of sites where no measurements are available. Using ecological knowledge on vegetation succession with or without rewetting, it is possible to predict the development of global warming potential for sites over a longer time span. The effect of a rewetting measure on the reduction of global warming potential can be quantified.

Chapter 4 discusses the biodiversity values of Belarusian peatlands. The Aquatic warbler is introduced as an umbrella species for biodiversity targets in peatland restoration. 47.9% of the European breeding pairs are estimated to breed in Belarus. An up-to-date review summarizes current knowledge and data on peatland rewetting and its effect on biodiversity. From this review, monitoring strategies are developed for an assessment of restoration measures on flora and fauna. This part of the book is very valuable for site managers who want to know and measure the effects of their activities.

Chapter 5 is entitled Driving forces and funding options. Behind these mysterious words the reader gets information on legal obligations for peatland restoration in Belarus and is informed from first-hand about activities carried out in order to sensitise global conventions to climate change mitigation in peatlands. This part describes the long and winding road taken to get peatlands better recognized in global conventions and restoration activities included as regular measures in the protocols. One option is to sell peatland rewetting, on either the voluntary or the compliance carbon market; both options are discussed in detail. How these ideas were put into practice with voluntary emission reduction projects is presented at the end of this chapter.

Chapter 6 discusses land use options for rewetted peatlands. Paludiculture is introduced as an economically feasible land use for peatlands with high water level. Land use options include agricultural, industrial and energy uses. Using wet peatlands has many environmental benefits including lower global warming potential and higher biodiversity when compared with drained peat soils.

Chapter 7 introduces the partners involved in this research and implementation project, and presents the criteria for site selection for rewetting. Next to climate and biodiversity actions policy actions, capacity building and communication and awareness raising were important parts of the project. The lessons learnt during the project are summarized at the end of the chapter and are of interest for any peatland manager or decision maker.

Chapter 8 describes the practical rewetting examples carried out during the project at seven sites. Chapter 9 recommends further research and monitoring activities in rewetted peatlands. Gaps in the GEST model are identified. For some vegetation types (e.g. some abandoned fields and fallows) no emission data are available for many other calibration measurements. The recommended monitoring activities are easily transferable to other sites and make this part again also very helpful for other peatland managers.

Chapter 10 acknowledges the partners and authors who contributed to this successful project and publication.

This book is an excellent example how to combine basic and applied research in environmental science with decision making and policy. The results are all presented in clear language, calculations and methods are transparent. This book forms a basis for sustainable decision-making and policy. Schweizerbart Science publishers are especially acknowledged that they have published English and Russian editions at the same time.

Michael Trepel

PEATLANDS International 2/2011, p. 60-61

Review: BES Bulletin of the British Ecological Society 2012 43:1 top ↑

Adorned with a foreword by Achim Steiner, United Nations Environment Programme, among others, this volume provides a comprehensive account of how to successfully combine biodiversity conservation with payments for ecosystem services. This volume synthesises experiences, challenges and lessons learnt by the multilateral peatland restoration project in Belarus (coordinated by the RSPB in collaboration with APB-BirdLIFE Belarus and the Michael Succow Foundation, funded by the German government) in applied science integration into policy and practice.

The global context is striking. Peatlands play a crucial role in climate regulation, storing globally twice as much carbon as the total forest biomass. Drained peatlands, however, harbour a ‘time bomb’ for releasing this concentrated carbon store: covering only 0.3% of the world’s land surface they are responsible for a disproportionate 6% of the global anthropocentric CO2 emissions. A problem likely to be exarcerbated by a changing climate. Peatland restoration therefore offers not only a necessary but also cost effective climate mitigation option. This book is highly topical, as rewetting is now formally included as option in the Kyoto protocol and – in comparison, deep peatlands cover nearly 10% of the UK land area, but an estimated 80% have been damaged.

This well edited volume reads like a text book with logical steps synthesising the scientific evidence on the role of peatlands in climate regulation and as important wildlife habitats, the political and economic drivers for restoration with respect to global conventions, voluntary and compliance carbon markets, options for sustainable land use, practical steps in conservation planning and restoration approaches in different settings, the stakeholder engagement process and recommended research and monitoring activities. While easily accessible, there are some excellent in-depth sections, in particular on the Greenhouse gas Emission Site Type (GEST) approach using vegetation as a proxy for assessing GHG emissions from peatlands. The analysis of the institutional process of arriving at successful restoration and piloting carbon credits from rewetting is compelling. While providing a detailed case study, the authors clearly set out the global economic, social and political context for peatland restoration arriving at carbon credits, so that lessons can be applied also in other geo-political settings.

The appealing layout of the book invites the reader to dip in and read parts at a time. Structured in 10 concise chapters, the layout includes informative text boxes, high quality graphics and colour plates illustrating peatland ecosystems and their restoration. With contributions from 44 authors from science, policy, business and conservation practice, this volume is well-rounded and a truly transdisciplinary endeavour. Thanks to thorough editing, this is an enriching read for conservation scientists, practitioners and policy advisers.

The editors are also to be commended to have achieved the enormous task of publishing the volume simultaneously in English and Russian, thereby making it accessible to both a regional as well as international audience.

If there is one challenge to be taken up by further work, it is the application of the approach across temperate peatlands across Europe and the UK - surely something for the international peatland science-policy-practice community to rise to.

Aletta Bonn

BES Bulletin of the British Ecological Society 2012 43:1

Bespr.: Tuexenia 32 (2012) top ↑

Entwässerte Moore bedecken lediglich 0,3 % der globalen Landoberfläche, sind gleichzeitig aber für rund 6 % der globalen Treibhausgasemissionen verantwortlich. In Europa rangiert das an Moorflächen besonders reiche Weißrussland selbst im globalen Kontext an vorderer Stelle in puncto CO2 Emissionen, sowohl in absoluten Zahlen als auch per Landfläche. Im letzten Jahrzehnt wurden dort auf Initiative privater Naturschutzorganisationen und mit finanzieller Unterstützung von BMU und KFW tausende Hektar entwässerter Moorflächen wiedervernässt. Ziel dieser Maßnahmen ist neben einer Reduktion von Treibhausgasemissionen auch die Wiederherstellung der moortypischen Biodiversität. Damit sich das Ganze für die betroffenen Regionen auch ökonomisch rechnet, sollen Wiedervernässungsmaßnahmen über sogenannte Carbon Credits finanziell honoriert werden. Der Klimaschutz gewinnt damit – gerade im politischen Raum – zunehmend an Bedeutung als besonders schlagkräftiges Argument für die Renaturierung von Mooren. Der vorliegende von Franziska Tanneberger und Wendlin Wichtmann aus den Greifswalder Arbeitsgruppen von Hans Joosten und Michael Succow zusammengestellte Band bietet eine umfassende und facettenreiche Synthese von Pilotprojekten, die zwischen 2008 und 2011 in Weißrussland durchgeführt wurden. An der Erstellung der 9 Teilkapitel waren nicht weniger als 44 Autoren beteiligt. Nach einer kurzen Einführung in die Naturgeschichte der Moore Weißrusslands werden in den einzelnen Teilkapiteln u. a. die folgenden Themen erörtert: Moore und Klima, Moore und Biodiversität, treibende Kräfte und Finanzierungsoptionen sowie Landnutzungsoptionen nach Wiedervernässung. In Kapital 7 werden ab Seite 133 die Ergebnisse des BMU-ICI-Projekts, auf dem diese Studie letztlich fußt, eingehend dargestellt. Abgerundet wird dieser Part durch ausführlich dokumentierte Beispiele für Wiedervernässungsmaßmahmen aus sechs verschiedenen Moorgebieten Weißrusslands. Im Schlusskapitel werden Empfehlungen für zukünftige Forschungs- und Monitoringmaßnahmen in wiedervernässten Mooren gegeben. – Das Buch (39,80 EUR) ist hervorragend illustriert mit zahlreichen instruktiven Farbfotos, Karten und Grafiken. Es bietet sowohl Praktikern und Wissenschaftlern als auch Politikern einen faszinierenden Einblick in die Möglichkeiten und Grenzen einer Wiedervernässung von Mooren. Es sollte auch als Inspiration und Argumentationshilfe verstanden werden, die Wiedervernässung der nicht unerheblichen Resttorfkörper Mitteleuropas weiter zu forcieren.

N. Hölzel

Tuexenia 32 (2012)

Review: © 2012 Fauna & Flora International, Oryx, 46(4) top ↑

After years of wading knee-deep in thick brown organic matter, peat scientists are finally enjoying their time in the sun. Global policy-makers are increasingly realizing the sizable contribution that carbon-rich peatlands make to global greenhouse gas emissions— up to 2 Gt CO2e per annum (for comparison, global emissions were 49 Gt CO2e in 2004). The publication of this book is therefore very timely. It summarizes the results of a 3-year project to restore and sustainably manage peatlands in Belarus, a small country in eastern Europe wellendowed with bogs and fens.

This information-rich volume fluctuates between textbook, scientific reporting of results from the project, and a how-to manual for accessing the global carbon market. This somewhat confusing mix is probably a function of the 44 contributing authors, although what it lacks in cohesion it makes up for in content. Early chapters describe the extent and characteristics of peatlands in Belarus, and the relatively recent realization of the need for re-wetting of its previously drained peatlands, an important point being that ‘without rewetting, drainage related emissions will remain as high as when these lands were still used as cropland or grazing land’. The relationship between peatlands and climate is explained, although the explanation of the chemical processes in peatlands is not for the faint-hearted.

Chapter 3 summarizes some of the methods for measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands, including ‘expertheavy’ methods such as the gas flux chamber and eddy covariance technique. The failure to discuss the low-tech, low-cost approach of using subsidence poles to estimate peatland emissions is disappointing, although perhaps because this technique is more appropriate for measuring rapid peat loss following drainage, rather than the glacial-pace process of peat deposition following rewetting. An innovative method proposing the use of vegetation type as a proxy for emissions is proposed—the theory being that indicator species can be linked to peat water levels, which has a strong correlation with peatland emissions. This greenhouse gas emission site type (GEST) approach carries much appeal for anyone who has ever endured the laborious and cumbersome process of fieldbased peatland measurements. Unfortunately it appears that the peat emission values matched to each vegetation type appeared to be drawn from the literature, rather than from calibrated emission measurements taken from the experimental sites in Belarus. Therefore it is difficult to assess the robustness of the method. Fortunately, at the time of writing, the GEST methodology is undergoing a double-validation process under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), so independent auditors are working away on this very question, and the validity of the technique for application to the voluntary carbon markets is soon to be revealed. Regardless of the outcome of this validation, the authors’ efforts to simplify and reduce costs of peatland emission estimation should be applauded.

The book includes a comprehensive assessment of the unique biodiversity that exists in the peatlands of Belarus. Together with the colour plates interspersed throughout the book these assessments dispel the myth of peatlands as dank inhospitable environments. Rather, they are a distinctive destination for bird-watching and recreation. Moreover, the ability to restore biodiversity to formerly drained peatlands appears promising, which is good news given the degraded status of this ecosystem globally.

Chapter 5 describes the role of peatlands in global environmental agreements, and describes how wetland projects could enter either the compliance or voluntary carbon market, including commentary on the appropriateness of various carbon accounting techniques. Of note is the fact that peatland projects are now specifically included in the world’s foremost carbon standard, the VCS. Beyond generators of carbon credits, Chapter 6 provides some ideas on potential uses for peatlands following re-wetting.

The somewhat unusual sequence of chapters means that it is not until the end of the book that a detailed description of the Belarus project is provided, together with an overview of the re-wetting activities undertaken in the study sites. For those not already familiar with the concept of peatland re-wetting (which I suspect is the bulk of the population!), it is therefore recommended to read the later chapters (7 and 8) first. The lack of a stepby- step guide for how to diagnose and prescribe appropriate re-wetting activities is also somewhat disappointing, given the urgent need for transfer of lessons learned in this area to tropical developing countries.

Of course no scientific publication would be complete without a discussion of research gaps and the clarion call for more funding to address them. In this sense, the book does not disappoint and the research gaps appear to be targeted and appropriate. It appears there is scope for plenty more knee-deep wading in thick brown organic matter yet!

ZOE RYAN Fauna & Flora International,Melbourne, Australia

© 2012 Fauna & Flora International, Oryx, 46(4)

Review: Mires and Peat, Book Review 2013.03 top ↑

Peatlands cover about 3 % of the world’s land surface, but they have been accumulating dead plant material as peat for millennia and now store some 550 Gt of carbon. During the 19th and 20th centuries, large-scale drainage of peatlands was carried out in many countries for land reclamation purposes. Most were taken into agriculture and forestry, and a smaller area was used for peat extraction. Drainage of peatlands leads to mineralisation of carbon and nitrogen from the peat, releasing the greenhouse gases CO2 and N2O to the atmosphere and thus contributing significantly to global warming. It is estimated that such land use induced changes are responsible for 6 % of anthropic CO2 emissions, with well-known hotspots in south-east Asia (SEA) and central and eastern Europe (CEE).

It is also well known that rewetting of drained peatlands reduces their greenhouse gas emissions. Belarus, in the centre of the continent, has a higher proportion of peatland than any other European country (14.2 % of the land area), of which around half (1.5 million hectares) had been drained by the end of the Soviet era. Some small-scale rewetting initiatives were masterminded by Nikolai Bambalov starting in the 1970s, but it took the drought of 2002—when most of the drained peatlands burned—to convince the authorities that the problem was significant. Since that time, there have been large rewetting projects countrywide, funded from a variety of international sources. In addition to developing and applying rewetting and conservation management techniques, these projects have focused increasingly on establishing financial sustainability for peatland rewetting through the sale of carbon credits, which was first proposed at a conference of the Michael Otto Foundation (MOF) held in Minsk in June 2007.

This book arises from the three-year project “Restoring peatlands and applying concepts for sustainable management in Belarus – climate change mitigation with economic and biodiversity benefits” which was developed in 2008 by the Michael Succow Foundation (MSF), conducted under the auspices of the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and co-ordinated by RSPB (UK). It is written for a wide audience, from scientists and peatland site managers to decision makers and climate change politicians, by 44 authors whose contributions are mostly attributed individually and have been deftly assembled like a jigsaw puzzle by the volume editors. Key terms (e.g. mire, peatland) and other important concepts are explained in separate text boxes, and this enables the reader to utilise the book not only as a source of information about specific topics, but also as a textbook on peatland ecology and management.

After Forewords from three major sponsors (UNEP, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus, MOF), the Introduction (Chapter 1) explains the context of the project, and is signed by the chief executives of three NGOs (APB-Birdlife Belarus, RSPB, MSF).

Chapter 2 describes the extent, formation, typology, uses and condition of Belarussian peatlands, as well as the state of knowledge and experience in rewetting. All peatlands in Belarus are owned by the state and allocated to one of six ‘peat funds’. Of these, the one that is most readily available for rewetting is the fund of extracted peat deposits (255,600 ha). Rewetting proceeds through stages of scientific justification, site selection, engineering planning, ecological and state expertise, and implementation. A gap in hydro-technical know-how for rewetting was filled in 2010 by the publication of a practical guidebook in both English and Russian.

Chapter 3 deals with peatlands and climate. First, the processes of greenhouse gas formation and controlling factors are clearly and concisely—but at the same time comprehensively—explained, and a global overview of peatland CO2 emissions presented. Here, as in all other part of the book, the scientific information is up-to-date and knowledge gaps are identified. Then, methods for measuring gas emissions from peatlands are introduced. The text box explaining how the global warming potential (GWP) of a peatland site is calculated is especially valuable for students and scientists wishing to carry out similar calculations for other sites, but also demonstrates for decision makers and politicians the transparency and reliability of these calculations. The remainder of the chapter describes the GEST (Greenhouse gas Emission Site Type) approach for large-scale estimation of GWP which, despite a paucity of calibration data, already delivers more detailed assessments than the use of IPCC default values and, because it is founded on ecohydrological principles, has enormous potential for further refinement. It is based on utilising vegetation, which integrates the local site conditions, as a proxy for GHG emissions. Adding ecological knowledge on vegetation succession enables quantitative prediction of the development of GWP for individual sites under different management scenarios.

Chapter 4 focuses on peatlands and bio-diversity—always a difficult topic as biodiversity is seldom a major investment driver for peatland restoration, but often the ecosystem service for which tangible gains can be most readily demonstrated. We soon forget to notice the lack of fires that otherwise might have happened, or the absence of greenhouse gas emissions that might otherwise have occurred; but we can hardly miss the abundance of nature on rewetted fenland. Departing briefly from her usually concise factual delivery in Box 13, Tanneberger quotes from an observation by one E. Hesse visiting similar fens near Berlin on a warm May evening in 1909, when he heard “the cawing of terns, the screaming of Lapwings, the piping of Redshanks, the yodelling of Godwits, the bleating of snipes, the trumpeting of Cranes, the booming of the Bitterns, the gobbling of Black Cocks, the whispering of Pipits, the whirring of Locustella warblers, the rattling and whistling of Aquatic Warblers, the plain song of the Whinchat ….” There is emphasis on the Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola Vieillot 1817), which is the only globally threatened songbird of mainland Europe. Fens in Belarus provide breeding habitat for 40 % of the current world population. This bird’s unusual behaviour, with 75 % of broods fathered by two or more territorial males and all cared for exclusively by their mothers, makes it an umbrella species for the habitat whose presence indicates satisfactory functioning of the whole supporting ecosystem. This chapter performs a ‘textbook’ function that will be especially valuable for site managers, by providing a review of methods for evaluation and monitoring of peatland biodiversity drawn from various sources including the Brooks & Stoneman Bog Management Handbook, the Schumann & Joosten Global Peatland Restoration Manual and the recent Fen Management Handbook by McBride et al. From the interesting illustrations in text boxes we learn that arthropod abundance is still suppressed in peatland that was rewetted to reduce radionuclide release after the 1986 Chernobyl accident, and about the biodiversity trajectory for Poplau Moch where recovery of former bog characteristics after rewetting is precluded by the fact that it has been mined down to a fen peat layer.

Under the slightly mysterious title “Driving forces and funding options”, Chapter 5 explores the maze of policy developments that have created the potential for financing peatland rewetting by trading carbon credits. It begins by outlining the legal obligations of landowners in Belarus to ‘recultivate’ worked-out peat mines. Nature conservation became a legitimate after-use only in 1997, but for the last 15 years has been the one most usually implemented. The peatland is rewetted in preparation for transfer to the forest fund. However, in practice, many ‘depleted’ sites are simply abandoned for financial reasons. The next section, from Hans Joosten, summarises the ‘long and winding road’ through the Ramsar Convention, CBD and UNFCCC to establishing peatland rewetting as an accountable activity under the Kyoto Protocol, that was embarked upon in the 1990s and still has a little way to go. But, he concludes, peatlands have now arrived in the UNFCCC deliberations and they are there to stay. The intricacies of carbon trading mechanisms are then explained. Wetland projects “were up to now” completely absent from the voluntary market, and because accounting for land use activities that might involve peatland rewetting remains non-mandatory under the Kyoto Protocol (and Belarus has not yet elected to include any relevant activities in her national accounts), it seems that we have not yet reached a point where the compliance market could be used to finance rewetting projects either. A description of how an emission reduction project in Belarus would be presented to the voluntary market does much to clarify how the procedure should work in practice. However, perhaps it is not made completely clear until Section 7.8 that peatland carbon credits were actually (“eventually”) sold—for the first time ever—under the auspices of the BMU-ICI project.

Chapter 6 discusses land use options for rewetted peatlands. There is a box devoted to the potential for peatland tourism in Belarus; and harvesting of medicinal plants, berries and fungi is explored. However, the chapter’s main focus is paludiculture—which is the sustainable commercial cultivation of biomass on wet and rewetted peatlands. The constraints are that the peat layer should remain sufficiently wet that it is conserved, and that the system is peat-forming. The 80–90 % of net primary production (NPP) that would decompose rather than be incorporated into the peat layer may be harvested and utilised. The range of potentially exploitable plant species able to thrive under high water table conditions is limited, but includes Sphagnum (an effective substitute for ‘white peat’ in horticultural growing media), black alder Alnus glutinosa (for timber and high-quality furniture) and large wetland monocots including common reed (Phragmites australis), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), cattail (Typha latifolia, T. angustifolia), reed sweetgrass (Glyceria maxima) and great pond sedge (Carex riparia). The main candidates for cultivation in Belarus are the reeds (Phragmites, Phalaris) and detailed inform-ation is given about harvesting and utilisation for energy production. There are advantages for GWP, in that avoided greenhouse gas emissions are estimated at almost 30 t CO2-eq ha-1 year-1; for biodiversity, in that management is or can easily be made compatible with habitat requirements for other wetland species including the Aquatic Warbler; and economics, in that enterprise based on wetland species avoids substantial costs that presently dictate the ongoing need for society to heavily subsidise conventional agriculture (e.g. meat production) on drained peatland.

Chapter 7 is devoted to the BMU-ICI project. The first two pages give potted descriptions of the seven project partners—who they are and what they do. Achievements of the project are then listed as:

rewetting of 14,000 ha of peatlands;
development of an international peatland carbon standard (VCS) and an internationally approved baseline and monitoring methodology for peatland rewetting and conservation;
assessment of GHG emissions and biodiversity values at project sites before and after rewetting;
promotion of the objectives and results of the project;
demonstration of sustainable management of peatlands by using plant biomass for fuel production;
capacity building for Belarussian scientists; and
development of a twin project in the Ukrainian part of the transboundary ‘Paliessie’ (Polesie/ Pripyat) wetlands.

Then, an account of long-term project impacts is followed by sections on project actions in: site selection and rewetting, climate, biodiversity, policy, and communication and capacity building. In the fourth of these there is a small tribute to Vladimir Tarasenko, who was heading the Belarus delegation at the 2009 UNFCCC meeting in Bonn when he passed away suddenly although only in his early forties. Lessons learned are also covered, and the chapter ends with information about the twin project in Ukraine—which began late in 2009 and has encountered very different organisational issues because the focus peatlands are mostly privately owned in small parcels.

Chapter 8 describes the practical rewetting work carried out at the nine Belarussian project sites. For four of these, the descriptions take the form of short summaries only. For the remaining five—three bogs in northern and central Belarus, plus one fen in the north and another in the south—detailed accounts and maps are given. A similar treatment is afforded to the ‘most beautiful’ Jelnia Mire which provided the picture for the cover of the book but was restored within two other APB-Birdlife Belarus projects. As might be expected, the demonstrated biodiversity benefits are generally more convincing than those for carbon at this early stage; for example, work at Dalbeniski peatland did not begin until late 2010 and, at the time of writing, completion of the construction works was expected by July 2011. As also noted for the project in Ukraine, at least some of the peatlands were previously abandoned and had developed some tree cover, and so did not strictly comply with all of the site selection criteria (notably Criteria 4 and 7) given in Section 7.2 for projects aimed at generating carbon credits. On the other hand, life in practice is never perfect and it could be extremely difficult to find available pilot sites that totally lacked such attributes.

Chapter 9, entitled ‘Recommended research and monitoring activities in rewetted peatlands’, looks to the future. Gaps in the GEST model are identified and plans are outlined for its further development into six modules GEST-HERB, GEST-WATER, GEST-FOREST, GEST-TRANSIENT, GEST-FIRE and GEST-PREDICT, each employing a different proxy for GHG fluxes depending on the field situation. The differences between research and monitoring are explained. Alongside monitoring of GHG emissions and proxies, demonstrated biodiversity benefit is flagged as an attribute that improves the attractiveness of peatland rewetting and could enable the generation of premium-priced carbon credits. The final paragraph echoes a familiar plea for safe storage and open-access availability of data to avoid pointless ‘continuous re-invention of the wheel’.

Chapter 10 acknowledges the partners and authors who contributed to both the project and the publication. It is followed by lists of references and contributors, and an index.

The book is attractive, and printed on good-quality paper with running headers identifying the section number and topic throughout. It is also quite reasonably priced, in both the English version and the simultaneous Russian edition which is advert-ised on the final page. The 11″ × 8″ (28 × 21 cm) format—just a little shorter than A4—makes for a slim volume with large illustrations and user-friendly text boxes. To limit the number of colour-printed sheets, the colour Figures are gathered into four-leaf bundles following pages 20, 52, 116 and 156. In these, the ‘jigsaw puzzle’ goes slightly wrong in that consecutive numbering of Figures is demoted in favour of achieving an arrangement that fits neatly onto the pages. As there is no index of Figure numbers, brief searching is needed to locate some of the illustrations as one is referred to them by the text. There are a few scattered typos; also, although the authors / editors have excellent English, some Germanic word-orderings have survived. It may be that parts of the text have been harvested from interim reports without full updating to the end of the project; but this seems an almost-inevitable penalty of the impressively timeous publication, which was achieved within the project’s three-year timeframe. Overall, everything is clear, or becomes so fairly quickly, and the whole is very readable.

This is a massively important publication, in that it teases out and clarifies practical linkages between the ‘old’ topic of peatland restoration and ‘new’ directions in high-level policy development, such that we begin to see a route towards simultaneously satisfying the principles of environmental and economic sustainability in peatland management. Despite their larger carbon stocks and longer carbon cycles, peatlands received much less attention than forests in the development of thinking about the management of terrestrial carbon for climate change mitigation, largely because they were more ‘difficult’. Here we have the whole story of persistence and innovation that was needed to restore this Cinderella once again to her rightful position of visibility. Or, invoking some of the famous words of UN Under-Secretary General Achim Steiner from 2007, it brings peatland protection and restoration—as a key “low hanging fruit” for cost-effective climate change mitigation—finally into the banquet hall. As a clear account of the issues and how they can be addressed at all levels, this book should be read and built upon by politicians and policy-makers, by environmental practitioners, and by every established and intending peatland science specialist.

Olivia Bragg and Michael Trepel, February 2013

Mires and Peat, Book Review 2013.03

Bespr.: Natur und Landschaft 88. Jg. (2013) Heft 5 top ↑

Moore sind nicht nur einzigartige und komplexe Ökosysteme, sie spielen auch eine immense Rolle bei der globalen Klimaregulierung. So bedecken degradierte Moore weniger als 0,5 % der globalen Landfläche, emittieren jedoch ca. 2 Gt CO2/a - hier liegt folglich großes CO2-Einsparpotenzial. In den zurückliegenden Jahren ist viel geschehen, um Einsparungen durch Moorwiedervernässung messen und abschätzen zu können, sowie zertifizier- und handelbar zu machen. Es ist daher weitsichtig und lobenswert, dieser jungen Entwicklung durch die Publikation „Carbon credits from peatland rewetting. Climate - biodiversity - land use“ eine umfassende Betrachtung zu widmen. Die Veröffentlichung geht zurück auf das Projekt „Restoring peatlands and applying concepts for sustainable management in Belarus - climate change mitigation with economic and biodiversity benefits“, das 2008-2011 im Rahmen der Internationalen Klimaschutzinitiative des Bundesministeriums für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit (BMU-IKI) in Weißrussland durchgeführt wurde. Die Projektpartner testeten an verschiedenen Moortypen in Weißrussland wie es möglich ist, Moore wiederzuvernässen und zugleich ökologische und ökonomische Nutzen zu erzielen. Dabei beschränkt sich die Publikation nicht nur auf den weißrussischen Kontext, womit sie als Wissens- und Inspirationsquelle für den Moorschutz in ganz Mitteleuropa dient.

In logischer Folge - gebündelt und auch für Laien verständlich - werden wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse über die Rolle von Mooren für die Klimaregulierung und die biologische Vielfalt sowie über politische und wirtschaftliche Hintergründe der Moorrenaturierung dargestellt. Methoden der Messung und Abschätzung von Emissionsminderungen werden ebenso umfassend erläutert, wie die Möglichkeiten, Emissionsreduktionen auf dem freiwilligen Zertifikatemarkt zu veräußern. Auch Landnutzungsoptionen, wie z. B. Biomassenutzung renaturierter Moore werden eingehend beleuchtet. Anhand der Praxisprojekte sind konkrete Maßnahmen zur Wiedervernässung exemplarisch dargestellt. In diesem Zusammenhang werden zudem die Bedeutung der Einbindung von Stakeholdern hervorgehoben und Wege der Operationalisierbarkeit aufgezeigt.

Auch bestehende Wissenslücken und Defizite angewendeter Methoden sind durchgehend transparent dargestellt. Gleiches gilt für die „lessons learned“ aus dem BMU-IKI-Projekt. Durch das gelungene Layout mit zahlreichen Bildern, wie auch Textboxen, die u. a. interessante Exkurse und Vertiefungen bieten, wird das Wissen gut zugänglich dargestellt. Die in englischer und russischer Sprache erschienene Publikation, an der über 40 Autorinnen und Autoren mitgewirkt haben, bietet Vertreterinnen und Vertretern der Wissenschaft und der Politik sowie der Naturschutz- und Planungspraxis einen ausführlichen und zugleich kompakten Überblick über aktuelle Theorie, Praxis und Rahmenbedingungen der Moorwiedervernässung, den entsprechenden Zertifikatemarkt und den Möglichkeiten der folgenden Landnutzung. Fazit: Durchaus lesenswert!

Katharina Dietrich (BfN)

Natur und Landschaft 88. Jg. (2013) Heft 5

Bespr.: Zentralblatt für Geologie und Paläontologie Teil II Jg. 2012 Heft 5/6 top ↑

Vorliegendes, von 44 Autoren geschriebenes Werk befasst sich mit der Kohlenstoffbilanz und anderen Naturschutz- und Klimaschutz-relevanten Aspekten trockengelegter oder trockengefallener Moore und deren „Wiederherstellung“. Da solche trockengelegten bzw. trockengefallenen Moore enorme Mengen von ansonsten im feuchten Boden (bzw. Torf) gebundenen Kohlendioxids freisetzen, besitzt die Wiederherstellung des ursprünglichen, gefl uteten Zustands eine enorme Bedeutung für den Klimaschutz. Auch wenn das Ziel klar ist, bleiben aktuell noch viele Fragen, wie man am besten das Ziel erreichen kann bzw. welche weiterreichenden, evtl. negativen Konsequenzen eine Wiederbewässerung haben könnte (z. B. Freisetzung von Methan, Einfluss auf Biodiversität etc.).

Am Beispiel Weißrusslands geben die Verfasser einen Überblick über die derzeitige Situation, über aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse zu offenen Fragen und mögliche Lösungsmöglichkeiten. Nach einer kurzen Einleitung in die generelle Problematik liefert das zweite Kapitel einen Überblick über die historische und jetzige Lage der Moore Weißrusslands, die in verschiedenen Ausprägungen etwa 14% der Fläche dieses Landes umfassen. Das dritte Kapitel befasst sich dann mit den Wechselwirkungen von Mooren und Klimaparametern, wobei der Schwerpunkt hier auf den Emissionen von Treibhausgasen liegt, während die Vegetationsentwicklung nur relativ wenig Raum einnimmt. Mit Fragen der Wechselwirkung zwischen dem Degradationszustand von Mooren und Aspekten der Biodiversität beschäftigt sich dann das folgende Kapitel. Das fünfte Kapitel behandelt vor allem politische und praktische Handlungsoptionen. Dabei gehen die Verfasser auch auf Aspekte des Emissionshandels (speziell die potentielle Vermarktung der Reduktion von Kohlendioxid-Emissionen durch Bewässerung) ein. Welche Möglichkeiten der praktischen, ökonomischen Nutzung wiederhergestellter Moore existieren, zeigt das folgende Kapitel. Das siebte Kapitel stellt dann ein vom Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit (BMU) und der International Climate Initiative (ICI) gefördertes Projekt zur Wiederherstellung der Moore Weißrusslands vor, in dessen Rahmen auch das vorliegende Werk entstand. Einzelne Beispiele zur Wiederbewässerung von Mooren, die im Rahmen dieses Projekts gelaufen sind, zeigt dann das achte Kapitel. Das neunte und letzte Kapitel des Werkes gibt Handlungsempfehlungen für zukünftige Forschungen und Monitoring-Aktivitäten, speziell in Bezug auf die Emission von Treibhausgasen, der Vegetationsentwicklung und der Entwicklung der Biodiversität allgemein in Folge von Wiederbewässerungsmaßnahmen. Abgeschlossen wird das Werk dann von einem Literaturverzeichnis und einem Schlagwortindex.

Auch wenn das Werk sich weitgehend mit angewandten Aspekten und durchgehend nur mit heutigen Mooren befasst, liefert es doch eine Fülle von ökologisch relevanten Informationen, die auch für die Paläontologie von Interesse sein können. Speziell in Hinblick auf die Kohlenstoffbilanz großflächiger fossiler Moore im weiteren Sinne, wie etwa die „Steinkohlesümpfe“ des oberen Karbon in weiten Teilen der Nordhemisphäre oder die permischen Kohlelagerstätten Gondwanas, und den Einflüssen zyklischer und singulärer Klima- und Umweltänderungen, die zu signifi kanten Zu- oder Abnahmen dieser Moore geführt haben, können die im Werk vorgestellten Daten von modernen Mooren einige neue Denkanstöße liefern. So stellt sich z. B. angesichts der doch relativ großen Mengen an Kohlendioxid, die von trockengefallenen oder trockengelegten rezenten Mooren freigesetzt werden, direkt die Frage, in wieweit das wiederholte, großflächige Trockenfallen karbonischer „Kohlensümpfe“, aufgrund von glazial bedingten Regressionen zur Freisetzung von Kohlendioxid geführt haben könnte und ob dies dann wiederum zu globalen Klimaänderungen (Erwärmung!) geführt hat, die zur nächsten Transgression führten? Das Studium des Werkes und der darin zitierten Primärliteratur könnte also, jedenfalls nach Meinung des Rez., für Wissenschaftler verschiedener geowissenschaftlicher Teilgebiete die sich mit fossilen Mooren befassen, von großem Interesse sein.

Dieter Uhl, Frankfurt am Main

Zentralblatt für Geologie und Paläontologie Teil II Jg. 2012 Heft 5/6

Bespr.: Wasser und Umwelt H. 1 Jg. 7 top ↑

Die Problematik und die Auswirkungen auf das Klima werden sehr gut vorgestellt und erläutert. Nach einer kurzen Einführung in das Thema werden dem Leser anhand von Zeichnungen und Beispielen die Grundlagen erklärt. Die Verfasser beschäftigen sich sehr tiefgründig mit dem Thema. Das Buch enthält aktuelle Messdaten und ihr Auswertungen. Die Problematik wird gut erläutert, gute Lösungsansätze und deren Umsetzbarkeit werden beschrieben. Interesse am Thema wird geweckt; auch fachfremden Personen ist es gut verständlich. Anhand on Beispielen und Bildern werden die Grundlagen gut erklärt.

Die Thematik wird mit vielen Fotos von der aktuellen Lage in Belarus (Weißrussland) erläutert. Dennoch gibt es zu viele Textpassagen, wo Zeichnungen und Grafiken für das Verständnis vom Nutzen wären. Teilweise müssen viele englische Begrifflichkeiten übersetzt werden. Insgesamt ist das Buches sehr interessant, insbesondere eignet es sich für Fachleute, die sich speziell mit der Thematik beschäftigen.

D. Rempel, Hannover

Wasser und Umwelt Heft 1, Jg. 7

Table of Contents top ↑

Foreword by the United Nations Environment Programme V
Foreword by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Protection
of the Republic of Belarus VII
Foreword by the Michael Otto Foundation IX
1 Introduction 1
2 Peatlands in Belarus 3
2.1 Extent and types of mires and peatlands in Belarus 3
2.2 Investigation and drainage of peatlands 5
2.3 Use of peatlands and peat 7
2.4 Rewetting of peatland 9
3 Peatlands and climate 13
3.1 Peatlands and greenhouse gases 13
3.2 The global peatland CO2 picture 20
3.3 Measuring GHG emissions from peatlands 30
3.4 Vegetation as a proxy for greenhouse gas fluxes –
the GEST approach 37
3.5 Prediction of vegetation development with and without rewetting 42
4 Peatlands and biodiversity 61
4.1 Biodiversity values of Belarusian peatlands 61
4.2 Relationship between peatland condition and biodiversity values 68
4.3 Target and indicator species 77
4.4 Peatland rewetting and bio diversity management 81
5 Driving forces and funding options 89
5.1 Legal obligations for the restoration of degraded peatlands
in Belarus 89
5.2 Sensitising global conventions for climate change mitigation
by peatlands 90
5.3 Selling peatland rewetting on the voluntary carbon market 94
5.4 Selling peatland rewetting on the compliance carbon market 99
5.5 Voluntary emission reduction projects – how to start in Belarus 105
6 Land use options for rewetted peatlands 107
6.1 Overview on land use options after rewetting 107
6.2 Biomass use for food and fodder 110
6.3 Biomass use for raw material 113
6.4 Biomass use for energy 115
6.5 Benefits from land use on rewetted peatlands 128
7 The BMU-ICI project 133
7.1 Project summary 133
7.2 Site selection and rewetting actions 137
7.3 Climate actions 141
7.4 Biodiversity actions 145
7.5 Policy actions 147
7.6 Communication and awareness raising 149
7.7 Capacity building 152
7.8 Lessons learnt 154
7.9 The BMU-ICI twin project in Ukraine 165
8 Practical rewetting examples 169
8.1 Introduction 169
8.2 Dalbeniski 170
8.3 Zada 172
8.4 Hrycyna-Starobinskaje 174
8.5 Scarbinski Moch 177
8.6 Dakudauskaje 181
8.7 Jelnia 184
9 Recommended research and monitoring activities in rewetted peatlands 189
9.1 Recommended research activities 189
9.2 Recommended monitoring activities 193
10 Acknowledgements 197
References 199
List of contributors 217
Index 219