Small area, big role: A tribute to Alpine peatlands

On World Wetlands Day, we want to spotlight the often overlooked yet vital role that wetlands play in the Alpine region. Wetlands come in many shapes and forms, from peatlands, marshes, and rivers to glacial lakes. They support unique ecosystems and services which underpin the social and economic livelihoods of people across the Alpine arc.

Peatlands in Alpine regions are often much smaller than in the lower regions but are important habitats for rare plant and animal species, can still store large quantities of carbon as well as play a crucial role in water management. Protecting and restoring them contributes to biodiversity conservation and can make a major contribution to climate change mitigation as well as national and international environmental policy goals.

The sustainable development, restoration, and conservation of peatlands in the Alpine region can only be successful if undertaken across administrative and sectoral levels. The Alpine Convention, through its international and cross-sectoral nature, is well-placed to facilitate such cross-border cooperation.

In recognition of the vital role of peatlands, Article 9 of the Alpine Convention’s Protocol on Soil Conservation highlights the importance of conserving peatland soils. In particular, the Convention’s signatories pledge to protect moorlands and to manage and use peatlands in a sustainable manner in Alpine highlands and lowlands.

Although peatlands make up a relatively small part of the Alpine landscape, they nevertheless face threats from a changing climate, shifts in land-use, and other pressures. World Wetlands Day is an opportunity to reinvigorate our commitments to protecting, restoring, and sustainably developing wetlands and moors across the Alpine space and beyond – thus securing a healthier and better environment for generations to come.

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