Paludiculture

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Paludiculture is wet agriculture and forestry on peatlands[1]. Paludiculture combines the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from drained peatlands through rewetting with continued land use and biomass production under wet conditions [2].

Impact of peatland drainage and rewetting[edit]

Peatlands store an enormous amount of carbon. Covering only 3 % of the land surface they store more than 450 GT of carbon which is more than the amount of carbon stored by forests (covering 30% of the land surface) [3], [4]. Drained peatlands cause numerous negative environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas and nutrient emissions, subsidence and loss of biodiversity, although only 0.3 % of all peatlands are drained, peatland drainage is responsible for 6 % of all human greenhouse gas emission [5]. Peatland rewetting significantly reduces environmental impacts caused by drainage.

Arguments for the preservation of peatlands, and cultivation of crops thereon[edit]

  • Due to the drainage of soils in many areas (for agricultural purposes), the soil height has dropped significantly over the years, and water quality has lowered as well. By making these areas wetter again, these problems are corrected to a large extent, as such, they can avoid the need of installations against rising sea levels (levees, pumps)[6]
  • By making soils waterlogged, carbon is unable to bind to oxygen, and hence will not escape into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2)[7][8]
  • The preservation of the remaining peatlands is important for biodiversity.
  • The growing of crops extracts phosphate from the land, which is important in wetlands; it also helps to extract other nutrients from water, making it suitable for post-water treatment purposes[9]

Examples of potential crops for cultivation on wet and rewetted peatlands[edit]

The Database of Potential Paludiculture plants (DPPP) lists more than 1,000 wetland plants [10], but only a minor fraction is suitable for paludiculture. Examples for potential and tested paludicultures are provided in the table below.

Tab. Examples for potential and tested paludicultures (modified after [11], [12]).

Species Region & sites Utilization
Alder (Alnus glutinosa) Central Europe, fen, oligo-eutrotrophic Timber, fuel
Cattails (Typha sp.) Central Europe, North America, West Africa, fen, polytrophic Construction material (e.g. insulation), solid fuel, fermentation, fibers
Common reed (Phragmites australis) Europe, China, fen, polytrophic Construction material (e.g. thatching), paper, solid fuel, fermentation
Illipe Nut (Shorea stenoptera) Tropics Cocoa butter substitute
Jelutung (Dyera sp.) Tropics Latex
Sago (Metroxylon sagu) Tropics Starch
Sphagnum sp. Worldwide, bog, oligotrophic Growing media, revitalization
Water buffaloes Europe, Asia Cheese (mozarella), meat, conservation grazing

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paludiculture term
  2. ^ Wichtmann, W., Schröder, C. & Joosten, H. (eds.) (2016): Paludiculture - productive use of wet peatlands - Climate protection - biodiversity - regional economic benefits. 272 p. ISBN 978-3-510-65283-9
  3. ^ Bridgham, S. D., Megonigal, J. P., Keller, J. K. et al.: The Carbon Balance of North American Wetlands. Wetlands 26, 4/2006, S. 889–916
  4. ^ Dixon, R. K., Solomon, A. M., Brown, S. et al.: Carbon Pools and Flux of Global Forest Ecosystems. Science Vol. 263, 1994, 185-190
  5. ^ FAO and Wetlands International, Hans Joosten, Marja-Liisa Tapio-Biström & Susanna Tol Hrsg.: Peatlands - guidance for climate change mitigation by conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use. 2. Auflage, Rom 2012. ISBN 978-92-5-107302-5 FAO-Broschüre "Peatlands" (PDF; 5,4 MB)
  6. ^ Omhoog met het veen
  7. ^ EOS magazine, January 2017, De voordelen van natte akkers
  8. ^ According to Leon Lamers, one hectare of drained marshland emits 20 to 25 tons of CO2 per year
  9. ^ This purpose was demonstrated in the Aquafarm project by Wageningen University
  10. ^ Abel, S., Couwenberg, J., Dahms, T. & Joosten, H. (2013): The Database of Potential Paludiculture Plants (DPPP) and results for Western Pomerania. – Plant Div. Evol. 130: 219–228
  11. ^ Abel, S., Couwenberg, J., Dahms, T. & Joosten, H. (2013): The Database of Potential Paludiculture Plants (DPPP) and results for Western Pomerania. – Plant Div. Evol. 130: 219–228
  12. ^ FAO and Wetlands International, Hans Joosten, Marja-Liisa Tapio-Biström & Susanna Tol Hrsg.: Peatlands - guidance for climate change mitigation by conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use. 2. Auflage, Rom 2012. ISBN 978-92-5-107302-5 FAO-Broschüre "Peatlands" (PDF; 5,4 MB)