Comparative analysis, INtegration anD ExemplaRy implEmentation of cLimate smart LAnd use practices on organic soils: Progressing paludicultures after centuries of peatland destruction and neglect

Conventional agriculture and forestry on drained peatlands cause peat degradation, subsidence (up to 2 cm annually), enormous greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (20-40 t CO2 per ha and year annually) and eventually often a loss of productive land.Rewetting reduces these effects and simultaneously restores other ecosystem services including water and nutrient retention, water purification, flood control and mesoclimatic cooling. Paludiculture (lat. palus - swamp) is an innovative concept that allows rewetted peatlands to remain productively used. Paludiculture comprises a change to adapted crop species (Reed, Cattail, Reed Canary Grass, Sedges), harvesting machinery and biomass utilisation options.

The goals of the CINDERELLA project include:

  1. maximising biomass production in paludiculture
  2. minimising GHG emissions and nutrient release
  3. incorporating ecosystem services;
  4. developing management strategies and transferring them from lab to field and
  5. disseminating this innovative concept over Europe

The transdisciplinary research approach builds on the experience and expertise of the involved partners. The project links information on soil-water-crops interactions as a basis for biomass productivity with genetics related to the productivity of genotypes under different (changing climatic) conditions. The role of nutrient removal, retention and supply is taken into account to improve productivity and to address other ecosystem services.Micro-economic studies of site management, harvest and bioenergy use potentials in various European regions are combined with Life Cycle Assessments to assess sustainability capability and the provision of ecosystem services. A review of political and legal boundary conditions will show current opportunities and constraints for large scale implementation of paludiculture and allows recommendations on how to support paludiculture.

The project will involve close communication with and dissemination of project results to stakeholders – farmers, scientist, practitioners, authorities, consultants – from participating countries, e.g. by demonstrating various aspects of wet peatland use at pilot sites. Also other European regions are taken into consideration to introduce wet peatland use. Agriculture on organic soils under wet conditions is innovative.

The project wants to develop and strenghten farming techniques and economic tools to make it work as a basis for large scale implementation. With a strong science based transdisciplinary approach the project will facilitate this innovative strategy to adapt to climate change – with sustainable peatland utilisation becoming part of resilient agricultural regions.