We, Interreg BUFFER+, write to share the result of the Power to the Peatlands conference, the largest conference of peatland experts ever held that took place in Antwerp in September 2023. At this conference, a declaration to Empower nature, climate and future now! was agreed and calls for joint urgent action to safeguard these ecosystems in Europe. The declaration is supported by more than 90 signatories, including EU funded projects, scientists, non-governmental organisations, land managers, etc.
The organising committee stresses that a huge opportunity currently exists to align with the findings of the conference and to comprehensively restore Europe’s peatlands, thus reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions and improving biodiversity in a very significant way.
Adequate targets for the restoration of all peatlands are included in the final version of the Nature Restoration Law. This entails:
- adopting strict binding targets for the restoration of peatlands (under Articles 4 and 9.4;
- recognising that rewetting is a prerequisite to peatland restoration;
- adopting a level of ambition in line with the overarching international climate and biodiversity commitments of the EU (more information can be found in this policy brief, 2022), and preventing loopholes granted to Member States.
Healthy peatlands play an indispensable role in tackling climate change and represent biodiversity havens and are part of our culture as historic landscapes. Healthy peatlands curb GHG emissions, mitigate flood, drought and fire risks and improve water quality. However, more than 50% of EU’s peatlands are degraded and require urgent restoration action.