German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Peatland Strategies in Europe

Intact peatlands are highly specialized ecosystems that provide a variety of important functions.  However, large areas of peatlands in Europe are drained and used. This leads to a loss of many functions and to considerable greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, various countries have developed or are currently working on peatland strategies to protect living peatlands and peat soils. Experiences with and recommendations for peatland strategies are presented in the policy brief "Peatland Strategies in Europe".

Palsa peatland in Northern Finland (© Simone Wulf)
The photo shows a palsa peatland with cotton grass and small open water bodies.

Background: Why peatland strategies?

In Germany and some other European countries, most peatlands are drained and used for agricultural or forestry purposes. In these countries, near-natural mire ecosystems (“living” peatlands) occur only on small residual areas. They provide a habitat for rare animal and plant species and are thus important for the conservation of biological diversity. Peatlands, their condition and use also have an influence on the landscape's water balance and nutrient flows. Depending on the water level, they also have an impact on the climate, i.e. they act as carbon stores and sometimes even carbon sinks when sufficiently wet and as sources of greenhouse gases when drained. Against this background, peatlands have increasingly come into the focus of climate and other environmental protection in recent years. It is therefore important that nature conservation, agriculture and forestry as the most important users, water management as another central partner and other actors are involved in efforts to protect and sustainably use peat soils. Peatland management therefore increasingly requires comprehensive strategies.

Sun dew growns in ombrotrophic bogs (© Simone Wulf)
The picture shows Sun dew that grows in obrotrophic bogs.

In principle, peatland strategies aim to advance peatland protection by improving the framework conditions for implementation. However, there are large differences regarding which of the above-mentioned aspects of peatland management they address in particular and with which instruments they are implemented. Germany, too, is currently in the process of developing a federal peatland strategy. Some German states already have peatland programmes, including Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. The federal government has committed itself to the task of developing a federal peatland strategy with its current coalition agreement. First measures are to be implemented during this legislative period.

The Workshop “European Peatland Strategies”

Experts from twelve European countries met in Bonn on 28 and 29 October 2019 to discuss peatland strategies in a workshop sponsored by the BfN. The aim of the two-day workshop was to exchange views on the objectives, contents and approaches of the existing and planned peatland strategies in various European countries and on previous experience with their implementation. This should help to identify important elements of the strategies that should be taken into account in the context of overarching political objectives, e.g. in the fields of climate protection, nature conservation and water protection. Furthermore, the current status and the need for the integration of different aspects of peatland protection into strategies at EU level was discussed and further existing international framework conditions relevant for peatlands were presented.

The co-organisers of the workshop were the BfN, the Michael Succow Foundation and the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention).


The workshop results are summarized in the policy brief "Peatland Strategies in Europe".


The illustration shows BfN Srcipts 454 "Peatlands in the EU Regulatory Environment"

BfN Scripts 454 "Peatlands in the EU Regulatory Environment"


Policy Brief: Peatland Strategies in Europe

Last Change: 26/10/2020