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Climate mitigation via peat land management Assessment of the effects of alternative peatland management on climate mitigation potentials, on farm-level economics and on macro economics.

The purpose of the network-project is to identify synergies between peatland protection and climate protection, to quantify the contribution of alternative peatland management to climate protection, and to determine the farm-level and macroeconomic effects of a climate-friendly peatland management and restoration.

Using a comparative approach, trace gas measurements will be carried out on different land use types in six well-chosen measuring sites in Germany. In order to understand the dominating use/site condition combinations as fully as possible, the choice of the measuring sites were determined by the representativity of the respective study areas and of the represented peat region. In addition, potential alternative land uses which seem suitable for substituting or improving the dominating land use are included in the program.
So that seasonal differences and extremes can be included in the balances, the measurements will take place over the entire calendar year. Production rates and conditions for CO2, CH4 and N2O in the soil profile will be recorded and driving parameters for the trace gas exchange (e.g., water level, radiation, temperature) will be manipulated in the lab using soil core samples. By modelling the trace gas fluxes, robust trace gas balances will be determined. The results are emission factors for the respective gases which react sensitively to conditional parameters.
Upscaling the emission factors will be accomplished using current land use as well as different potential land use scenarios for the entire area. Assuming that suitable indicators for the extrapolation of the annual trace gas fluxes arise from the combination of land use with soil information, the trace gas fluxes can be upscaled for larger regions.
Within the scope of a detailed single-operational model, economic consequences of climate-friendly management measures will be calculated for potential land use scenarios, taking into account present and future agrarian-political developments. As a basis for evaluating the economic situation in the study areas, in addition to statistical data, affected farmers and the appropriate local experts will also be interviewed.
A political economic analysis will examine the consequences of alternative forms of utilization in terms of their effect on the provision of various ecological services. For the land use scenarios considered, the positive effects of the different use categories on the entire value of an ecological system are to be identified, quantified and then incorporated in an economic assessment. The effects of a land use change are to be assessed according to their different cost-benefit aspects (beyond the reduction of greenhouse gases) and reviewed for their implementation. In addition, the cost efficiency of measures for peatland protection will be assessed in relation to, for example, industrial measures.
With a macroeconomic costs-benefit analysis, positive and negative effects of the reviewed land use scenarios will be compiled. Aside from the purely monetary assessment, experts will be surveyed and on site participative approaches to determine the acceptance of the land use changes will be taken. Thereby, the comprehensive economic analysis will contribute to the evaluation of the scenarios.
The inclusion of different stakeholders should help in gathering the needed information but moreover, should help identify the restraining and supporting factors for the measurements needed to convert to a climate protecting peatland management. Stakeholders integrated in this procedure will represent land users as well as special interest representatives from the study areas, the regional support organisations, however, also authorities responsible for the study sites (e.g., nature conservation authorities, water authorities, agriculture offices, rural development offices) as well as representatives from the overriding programs controlling activities within the study sites or the implementation of the represented project (ministries for peatland development, climate protection strategies etc.).
Climate protection measures, like many environment protection measures, are generally also known to have implementation problems. Measures that are reasonable from a macroeconomic point of view can, in many cases, not be implemented if there is no acceptance of the consequent measures to be taken (even if the distributional position is not affected) or if the measures do not achieve satisfactory implementation effects. Hence, in the latter case, it is to be assumed that alternative measures will be necessary. The early integration of respective stakeholders (regional and national) is essential, for one, to acknowledge the stakeholders’ concerns and for another, to work out the possibilities for the implementation of measures for climate protection. At the same time, with the intended participative approach, interested parties will be informed at an early stage.