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Wetland restoration in the Bavarian Alps

For decades the Bund Naturschutz in Bayern e.V. (BN) has been working on a mainly volunteer basis to improve the hydrology of degraded peat bogs. Activities include the purchase or lease of land, termination of inappropriate management methods, and above all impounding works. Peat growth resumes in the rewetted areas. Typical wetland species flourish and the function of the peat bog as a CO2 sink (avoidance) and water store (adaptation) is improved.

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Fields: Nature protection, Water resources management, Protection from natural hazards, Spatial planning
Location: Districts Lindau, Oberallgäu, Ostallgäu, Weilheim, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen, Miesbach, Traunstein, Rosenheim
Start: 01.01.1999
Project period: Continuous since 1978 in part; further continuation open-ended
Contact: Dr. Christine Margraf, Bund Naturschutz in Bayern e.V. (BN) (e-Mail)

Moorrenaturierung

Objectives

Only 1% of Bavaria’s peat bogs are still in a natural state; 90-95% are seriously degraded. Mineralisation of Bavaria’s peat bogs causes the release of about 20 t CO2/ ha per year through peat wastage alone. Impounding works and tree and scrub clearance to achieve rewetting of drained and degraded peat bogs stops peat wastage and restores peat formation and sphagnum growth so that water is again retained in the peatland. Peat formation is accompanied by the reappearance of an indigenous peatland flora and fauna, including such species as the Moorland Clouded Yellow butterfly and the Subarctic Darner dragonfly, which are under threat as a result of climate change. Peat formation binds CO2. Intact peat bogs also have a very high water storage capacity; run-off in heavy rain is much lower there than on degenerated sites.

Activities

Rewetting is achieved primarily through impounding measures, e.g. blocking drainage ditches, and removing tree and shrub cover. Management measures serve to save biotopes and species threatened by climate change. Such measures are taken on the basis of development plans and maps. Activities, mostly carried out by volunteers, are concentrated on 23 peat bogs from the Algäu to Traunstein. Rewetting has restored peat growth on approx. 120 ha, with management measures now in process on a further > 150 (-200) ha. The land is owned partly by BN and partly by private individuals and others. The work is performed with the help of interested persons and members from the respective areas; everyone is welcome. Field trips are organised and talks held to draw attention to the value and success of the work. For the Allgäu wetlands, 3 regional officers are employed for PR activities and environmental awareness raising.

Results (CO2-savings)

Ground water levels have risen through the impounding effect of blocking the ditches in all the peat bogs. Open water is now to be found in places, sphagnum growth has been reactivated, and peat-forming plants and the initial stages of peat bog development can be observed. In the cleared areas, typical peat bog vegetation and fauna have reappeared. This has been documented for several of the sites. The rewetted area of the 23 peat bogs totals about 120 ha, and it can be assumed that CO2 storage has been reactivated or increased there. In other areas, where measures have been taken in support of typical peatland vegetation (> 150 ha), an increase in storage capacity for greenhouse gases can also be assumed. The effects in terms of run-off have not been quantified for lack of metering facilities, but they can be assumed from other investigations.

Organisation

Bund Naturschutz in Bayern e.V. (BN) mit seinen Kreisgruppen. Auf einzelnen BN-Flächen Maßnahmen durch andere Träger (Landkreis GAP, TS, RO, LI). Einzelne Maßnahmen durch andere Träger, z.B. Entbuschung durch Forstamt, Bergwaldprojekt, Landschaftspflegeverband.

Laudation

Wetland restoration, as in the case of the award-winning project in the Bavarian Alps, is an important subject in the context of climate change. Peat bogs not only help reduce greenhouse gases; their water retention capacity is also relevant in terms of flood protection. Such projects therefore make a meaningful contribution to the adaptation strategy in response to climate change. ... More

Photos

Ödmoos
(© Bund Naturschutz Ostallgäu)

Dümpfelmoos
(© Bund Naturschutz Traunstein)

Award ceremony
(© CIPRA)

Cool heads in the hothouse

Aurelia Ullrich of the cc.alps team met Christine Margraf, who is in charge of moorland protection at the environmental organisation Bund Naturschutz in Bayern, to talk about this success. More