WETSCAPES – Understanding the ecology of restored fen peatlands for protection and sustainable use
to be held September 10-13, 2019 in Rostock, Germany, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Peatlands cover only 3 % of the land surface worldwide but with some 450 gigatonnes of carbon
they contain substantially more than the carbon stock in the entire forest biomass of the world.
Thus, peatlands are the most effective terrestrial carbon stock on our globe. Globally, wetlands
are strongly impacted by humans. Many peatlands have been artificially drained for agricultural
and forestry purposes, or peat extraction. In Europe, for instance, half of the total peatland
area has been artificially drained. Drainage leads to decomposition and compaction of the peat soil,
and, thus, to subsidence. Degradation of peat may continue for decades. Initially, drained peatlands
provide favourable conditions for agriculture, but conditions deteriorate and eventually, long-term
drained peatlands can be hardly used for agriculture. Despite their minor surface area,
artificially drained peatlands cause disproportionally high CO2 emissions: they are responsible
for nearly 5% of the world’s anthropogenic CO2 emissions (2 gigatonnes CO2 per year).
There is, however, more to wetlands than carbon storage.
Wetlands function as buffer for water and compound fluxes and make landscapes react resilient
upon extreme weather and fertilizer scenarios. Habitat function is another important aspect of wetlands.
Rewetting can solve many of the problems related to the drainage of peatlands but is rarely an
implemented, often because the loss of agricultural land is seen as inevitable.
New management approaches in which peatland rewetting is combined with agriculture or forestry,
the so called 'paludiculture', can be an alternative. A mosaic of paludiculturally used peatlands
with peatlands restored primarily for nature conservation purposes is the future multifunctional
and sustainable peatland landscape - the vision of 'WETSCAPES'.
In WETSCAPES, in contrast to past land use approaches, the water is kept in the landscape,
thus facilitating carbon storage, nutrient retention, climate regulation, and habitat function.
As we are just at the beginning of implementing paludicultures, understanding of the
biogeochemistry and ecology of these novel ecosystems is still largely lacking.
A better understanding of the ecosystem functioning und the underlying processes is the basis
for a sustainable use of wet landscapes.
- Greenhouse gas exchange in space and time
- Element cycling and export
- Peatland bio-hydrology
- Plant growth and decomposition
- Microbial pathways
- Paleoecological methods in restored peatlands
- Legacy of degradation in biotic communities
- Mapping with GIS and remote sensing
The WETSCAPES conference brings together researchers and practitioners that work on any type
of fen peatland or on coastal non-peatland wetlands - pristine, artificially drained and rewetted.
Experience of agricultural scientists, soil scientists, ecologists, and practitioners from agriculture,
forestry, nature conservation, landscape planning, water engineering and other fields related to peatland management will be exchanged.
Following event in Rostock:
Botanikertagung 2019 - International Plant Science Conference
September 15-19, 2019