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Fen felling

Jul 08, 2010
It‘s 7 am in early summer. A clack, clack sound drifts through the veil of mist hanging over the Ödmoos area of Bavaria. Work is already in full swing. You need to start early, as it gets very hot during the day. Stefan raises his axe and starts to hack away at the clumps of bushes. The 23-year-old is studying forestry science and works as a volunteer restoring the area‘s natural habitat. He has always had a keen interest in fens and bogs as diverse habitats, ever since he was a boy. And now he also knows that they make a valuable contribution to climate protection.
Fen felling
Image caption:
Fen felling
More than 90 per cent of the bog land in Bavaria is severely degraded. The Ödmoos area near Traunstein has also lost part of its ecological value. Stefan and his colleagues are helping out with the project set up by the Bund Naturschutz in Bayern (BN) to ensure that the bog land is able to thrive again in near-natural conditions. Indeed, only once it has achieved a sufficient size can it contribute towards protecting the climate. If all the bog land areas in Bavaria were returned to near-natural conditions, up to five million tonnes of CO2 could be saved each year. That is the equivalent of six per cent of Bavaria‘s annual emissions. Intact bogs and fens are also the best – and cheapest – flood protection installations around. Why? Because they soak up water like a sponge. As a result, any settlements situated downstream are protected against flooding.
The BN‘s successful efforts were rewarded by CIPRA with one of its main prizes in a cc.alps competition (see box). The prize money was used in 2009 to purchase additional bog land and to finance other restoration projects. The prize winner has managed to broaden the impact of CIPRA funds. The Free State of Bavaria is subsidising bog land restoration projects to the tune of EUR 8 m via its climate programme through to 2011. As Christine Margraf of BN explains: “The prize was important not just financially, but above all as a recognition for all the hard work and motivation of the many volunteer workers from organisations, institutes and local authorities”. After winning CIPRA‘s award, the project became better known at an international level.
More maintenance work will also be necessary in future to preserve the vital Latschenhochmoor in Traunstein. Volunteers will regularly remove the emerging spruce, birch, Scots pine and buckthorn shrubs as they tend to draw the water from the boggy soil and prevent the bog-land vegetation from being fully exposed to the sun. Stefan‘s little sister Lina has also been bitten by the bog bug. She and her youth group recently took part in a field trip to the boggy marshland. Since then her favourite flower is the sundew. She has also decided to help out with the maintenance of the bog land when she‘s a little older so it can continue to grow and prosper.

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Keeping a cool head in the face of climate change
With its project “cc.alps – climate change: thinking one step ahead”, CIPRA is harnessing knowledge on intelligent climate protection and sustainable adaptation measures. One of its focal points is raising the awareness of all those involved. In 2009, the project received funding worth CHF 1.058m from the MAVA Foundation for Nature in Montricher/CH.
CIPRA has processed the knowledge obtained and used it to compile background reports on eleven different topics including energy, transport, construction and renovation, energy self-sufficient regions and spatial planning. These CIPRA compacts are regularly posted online at www.cipra.org/cc.alps-compacts. An international conference entitled “Cool Heads in the Hothouse!” held in Bolzano/I in April 2009 was also a great success.
www.cipra.org/cc.alps
Source: Annual Report 2009 CIPRA International
www.cipra.org/en/CIPRA/cipra-international