Gimme, gimme MOOR - that's how important moors are for the climate
There is something mystical about Moore. But did you also know that they are true climate protectors? They protect against flooding, filter the water and ensure biodiversity. For our ancestors, however, they were above all useless wasteland. That is why they were drained over the centuries to become useful land for agriculture and forestry - until today. Apparently nobody was aware of the significant consequences that would entail:
What are bogs and how are they formed?
There have been bogs in Central Europe since the last Ice Age. They form where there is water on the ground. Step by step, this softens over the centuries and thick mud is formed. The moor is ready - which in Germany can be up to 12 m deep! When sealed airtight, everything remains well preserved. In other words, animals and plants are preserved without releasing CO2.
Since there is no oxygen in the soil due to the high water level, fungi and bacteria cannot be supplied either. As a result, the dead plant matter does not decompose but accumulates over thousands of years. In this way, the carbon that is bound in the plants and that escapes during the decomposition process remains permanently embedded in the soil.
The total area of moorland throughout Germany is estimated at around 14,200 km². 65% of it is used for agriculture and can hardly be recognized as a moor. Because in order to be able to use the area effectively as grassland or arable land, farmers drain it. And thus drain the most effective carbon store of all land habitats : over 90% of the moors in Germany are now considered to be drained.
The result of drained moors
Peatlands are effective carbon reservoirs. They bind about a third of the terrestrial carbon - twice as much as all the forests on earth put together! True carbon deposits have formed over thousands of years. If they are deprived of water, everything starts to rot and a lot of CO2 is released . During dewatering, the bound carbon comes into contact with oxygen. Anyone who has paid attention in chemistry knows: oxidation occurs. Not only large amounts of CO2 get into the atmosphere, but also N2O (laughing gas), which is 300 times more harmful to the climate. The agricultural use of moors alone releases 37 million tons of CO2 equivalents per year.
Due to the ongoing draining of the moors, the EU causes the second highest greenhouse gas emissions in a global comparison.
Bogs offer protection against flooding and can defuse flooding. Because peat soils are extremely swellable and can store large amounts of water. Even in heavy rain. If the bog is intact, it can store around 90% of the precipitation and gradually release it again. A drained bog, on the other hand, can only store about 30%. The more bogs are dry, the more flood disasters there are .
In addition, moors are not called the “kidneys of the landscape” for nothing. They filter nutrients and pollutants out of the water and thus keep water bodies, rivers, streams and lakes clean.
Water at the moors! – the renaturation
Finally there is a rethink, because the Federal Ministry for the Environment wants to invest 48 million euros in peatland protection over the next 10 years and reduce around 5 million tons of CO2 every year by 2030. There is great potential in terms of climate protection.
By means of renaturation, drained moors are to be rewetted. For this purpose, the drainage ditches are closed and the water level is raised. If the peat gets submerged again, the degradation processes are stopped. After some time peat moss grows (and in the long term new peat) and CO2 storage from the atmosphere begins.
Even if the approach sounds good, it lacks a good concept. According to the Paris climate target and the EU climate target, all moors in Germany would have to be made wet again by 2045. This requires solutions for land owners and land users. Who pays when the farmers have to restructure the area that was drained especially for them? And where does the required water come from? What happens to the income of the farmers if the area has been used for subsistence up to now?
What to do with renatured moors?
Renatured moor areas can continue to be used for agriculture. For example, for the cultivation of reeds, which in turn can be used as thatch for roofing.
The biomass of the fens (also called fens; are always fed by groundwater) can be used to generate energy: reed beds could be used for new building materials and peat moss as a peat substitute in horticulture.
There are also a few bogs that cannot be restored to their natural state. These could still be used for agricultural purposes.
Bog habitat – important for people, animals and the environment
Intact moors provide habitat for endangered animal and plant species, contribute to climate protection and are important for the water and nutrient balance. After all, the government has now realized that drained moors are not such a good idea when it comes to our climate. The renaturation is planned, but the ideal implementation has not yet been found.
We are curious to see how our moors will continue. You too? Then feel free to follow us on TikTok , because Hannes always has the latest news for you.
Myth or fact: Can you sink in a bog?
It's a scenario like in a horror film: a person goes into the moor, gets stuck in it and sinks. But is that even possible? How dangerous are moors really?
We sink in the water because our body density is greater than the water density. The mud in the moor, on the other hand, is denser than our bodies. So please breathe a sigh of relief: We're not going under.
Nevertheless, such a bog can be quite treacherous, because there are numerous holes in the bog and the ground is very soft. Sinking is quite possible - and that is not without danger. Because once you get stuck, it is difficult to free yourself without outside help. Since the body cools down very quickly in the cold mud, in the worst case you can actually die. For all True Crime fans: There are exciting finds about bog bodies 👻.
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