An expensive global climate experiment
Peatlands are very often the setting for chilling folklore. But they serve an important function – for the climate and biodiversity. They’re capable of absorbing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide, thereby helping to mitigate the climate crisis. Nevertheless, bogs are still being destroyed all over the world.
In Finland, peatlands are being drained to extract peat and generate energy. With dramatic consequences: less than half of all the country’s bogs are still intact. Tero Mustonen is a climatologist. He founded the organization Snowchange, to protect and save peatlands. Together with members of his village, Snowchange sued the energy company responsible for the destruction of the Linnunsuo wetland. Mustonen’s organization is now engaged in the worldwide fight to salvage and rewild biotopes.
Greta Gaudig and Sabine Wichmann also campaign for the revitalization of peatlands. At the Greifswald Moor Center, the two conduct research on what’s known as paludicultures: plant species that can be farmed in wetlands. Gaudig and Wichmann want to recreate moorlands previously drained for agriculture. “We need to convince farmers,” the agronomist Sabine Wichmann explains. After all, ultimately they are the ones who will need to invest if they are to continue living off their land.
One of the world’s most expensive and far-reaching climate experiments is taking place in the US state of Minnesota: in the Marcell Experimental Forest. Here, co-founder Randy Kolka is working with scientists from all over the world. Together they’re studying the connection between peatlands and climate change. Their findings are included in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, thereby impacting political decision-making.