Each year, World Wetlands Day is dedicated to the irreplaceable and fragile peatlands, moors and other wetlands of the world. In the Alpine region, we celebrate these precious areas that carry out many crucial functions for biodiversity conservation, climate protection, and water supply.
As a particularly carbon-rich type of soil, moors contribute to the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus contributing to climate mitigation. At the same time, wetlands in the Alps are under growing pressures from increasing building activities, land use change and intensification, and climate change, which threatens their ability to carry out vital ecosystem functions.
The Alpine Convention therefore made protecting these peatlands a priority, dedicating Article 9 of the Protocol on Soil Conservation to the protection of wetlands. As part of its ongoing mandate (until autumn 2022), the Soil Protection Working Group is currently developing a long-term action plan for implementing soil protection provisions in the Alpine context – in which peatlands, wetlands and moors are an important feature. The long-term action plan will ensure continuity in the area of Alpine soil protection, as well as establishing a longer-term orientation for the various Thematic Working Bodies which work on the topic.
Also included in the action plan are the first and third implementation pathways of the soil protection topic of the Climate Action Plan 2.0. These pathways set out a series of steps to protect, restore, and enhance the quality of Alpine soils, including, of course, wetlands.
Although Alpine peatlands may be relatively small, they are still home to many rare plant and animal species, and they play a crucial role in Alpine water management. Cross-border cooperation and developing national peat protection strategies are recommended in the Peatland Strategies in Europepolicy brief as an important way to fully account for the value and ecosystem services of Alpine peatlands.
An example of such cooperation is the “Alpine peatlands and climate protection” project, which is financed by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV). This project explores how protecting Alpine peatlands can contribute to climate protection. It also aims to establish a network of and foster exchange between actors in the Alpine region to implement climate protection measures.