'What Do We Do?' to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands - World Wetlands Day at Skogaryd Research Catchment

07 February 2020

In order to raise awareness of the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet, the Wetland Convention was adopted on February 2nd, 1971. On February 2nd the year after it became "World Wetlands Day".

Wetland research is a central part of Skogaryd´s research station work; with special focus on their function and how they are affected by land use and a changing climate. "World Wetlands Day" was celebrated on Sunday, February 2nd, with an open house at Skogaryd Research Catchment (SRC) where research activities at wetlands were shown to the public. It was a beautiful day where the approximately 100 visitors walked between different installations. The day was much appreciated and the visitors requested a continuation for years to come.

In addition, the Faculty of Science at University of Gothenburg organized the first workshop in a series called "What Do We Do?" on the "Global Goals for Sustainable Development" on the 3rd of February that dealt with ditched wetlands ("How can we convert ditched peatlands from emission source to sink?”).

The background to the workshop is the large Greenhous Gas (GHG) emissions from drained peatlands in Sweden, which in the national reporting is estimated to emit 10 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents of greenhouse gases. This equals to approximately as much as the national passenger car traffic. How can we use and manage the peat so that the GHG emissions are reduced and the ecosystem can potentially be transferred to a carbon sink again? What trials are there in Sweden and what do they look like? Are there alternative approaches?

To reduce GHG emissions it is necessary to clearly show how the land must be managed to reach minimum emissions or even a GHG uptake. Perhaps ditched spruce forest must be shifted towards a wetland with meadow vegetation. A new Formas project funded at the Department of Earth Science at University of Gothenburg will focus on “how land-use management can convert high-emitting drained organic soils into areas with negative emissions”.

At the workshop, Leif Klemedtsson (Station manager) informed the participants about measurements and experiments started at SRC (SITES). After harvesting a spruce forest grown on ditched fertile peatland the emissions from the re-planted forest will now be compared with rewetted sections of the research area. Similar experiments were reported by Matthias Peichl during the workshop, who is responsible for the boreal ecosystem focused research at Svartberget Research Station (SITES). Here, the soil has low fertility and study sites include both ditched forested peatland (Kulbäcksliden) and a comparison between drained and rewetted peatland forests (Trollberget) in a similar way as in Skogaryd. The low fertility of the soil results in relatively low GHG emissions from the ditched soils and therefore rewetting will probably have a limited climate benefit.

Installation of micrometeorological flux towers to measure greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) after clearcutting a forest on drained organic soils at the Skogaryd Research Catchment. Photographer: Johan Martinelli

Photographer: Urla Ewender

Representatives from several universities, authorities, companies and organizations participated. Overall, the workshop had 45 participants and many were thankful for a rewarding event