According to the 2023 Moorland Atlas, which was compiled by the Heinrich Boll Foundation, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), and the Michael Succow Foundation, Germany is responsible for restoring 50,000 hectares of moorland on an annual basis, while the entire European Union is responsible for restoring 500,000 hectares of moorland. These numbers are necessary for the world to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The organizations demanded that the governments provide monetary incentives in order to accomplish this objective. According to Jan Peters, managing director of the Michael Succow Foundation, “A rethinking on how to deal with peatlands must take place in society as a whole, and the economy should also recognize the potentials.” “Climate services from wet agriculture on peatlands or novel products of ‘wet biomass’ must be recognized and provided attractive financial support,” he added. “Wet biomass” refers to the organic material that remains after decomposition of plant matter.
There are between 1,300 and 2,400 million metric tons of carbon stored in Germany’s peat soils, making it the country’s largest terrestrial carbon reservoir. Peat soils cover around 4 percent of the country. Growing heathland sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and emits methane (CH4), which is a powerful greenhouse gas. However, on the whole, natural moors have a negligible impact on climate. If they are drained, on the other hand, oxygen is allowed to enter the peat, which results in the release of carbon dioxide.
Approximately 95% of Germany’s moor soils have been drained, the majority for agricultural purposes (50% grassland, 25-30% fields), with the remaining 5% being used for forestry. According to the analysis, drained moorland is responsible for 37 percent of the greenhouse emissions that are produced by agriculture in Germany. In November 2022, the German government presented its moorland strategy, which aims to better reconcile the natural carbon sinks with land use for agriculture and other purposes, including the generation of renewable power. Specifically, the strategy aims to improve the balance between natural carbon sinks and land use for agriculture.