Global Peatland Restoration after 30 years: where are we in this mossy world?
Thursday, May 25, 2017
For centuries, humans have used peatlands for heating, cooking, grazing livestock and more. But fast-paced commercial forces have taken over and the industrial impact associated with peat, ores or petrol extraction, agricultural and forest drainage and the development of the supporting infrastructure—power lines, access roads, pipelines-have degraded the peatlands to a point where there is now an incentive to engage more strongly in their restoration.
“Peatland ecosystems are one of the most efficient ecosystems on the planet,” says Professor Line Rochefort, a world expert in peatland restoration. “In addition to effectively capturing carbon on the long term (thousands of years), which mitigates against global warming, peatlands are also specific habitats to carnivorous plants, orchids and breeding grounds for wetland birds.”
In 2015, Rochefort, held a Global Peatland Restoration symposium at the Society for Ecological Restoration’s World Conference in Manchester, England. Here she gave experts from around the world the mandate to provide an updated picture of peatland restoration in their part of the world and scan the horizon to identify challenges and opportunities to come.
“The most striking finding of this global exercise was that despite different contexts, peatland types, legislative environments and climate, the same key findings emerged from North America, Western Europe, the Baltic Countries, Australasia and South East Asia,” Rochefort noted.
Rochefort (U. Laval), along with Dr Roxane Andersen (ERI-UHI) and assisted by Professor Eeva Stiina Tuittila (U. Eastern Finland) and their invitees presented their findings in a recent edition of Restoration Ecology. Key among them:
“As we increase our understanding of processes underlying peatland functions, our capacity to restore peatlands as multi-functional landscapes will also improve” notes Rochefort. “The future is full of challenges, but also full of promises.”
- The techniques developed around the world are largely similar, there can be tremendous benefit from increased dissemination of the innovations, methods and best practices.
- The ability to restore functional peatlands world-wide is currently limited by the lack of comprehensive understanding of key interactions and feedback mechanisms linking water, vegetation, microbial communities and climate.
- To overcome the challenge and improve cost-effectiveness and success, long-term programmes of monitoring and research, coordinated between stakeholders and consistent across wider areas are urgently needed.
Department of Plant Sciences
Laval University, Québec, Canada
Environmental Research Institute
University of the Highlands and Islands
Citation: Rochefort, L. and Andersen, R. (2017), Global Peatland Restoration after 30 years: where are we in this mossy world?. Restor Ecol, 25: 269–270. doi:10.1111/rec.12417
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