Wetlands: heroes of climate protection

Peatlands play an important role in climate protection: they cover 3 percent of the earth’s surface worldwide, but bind twice as much carbon as the biomass of all forests. Nevertheless, they are under threat worldwide. With a donation to the Rotary Club of Wangen-Isny-Leutkirch, Mercer is supporting a rewetting project for a raised bog in Germany.

There are around 500 million hectares of moors worldwide. They provide a habitat for specialized species, filter pollutants, protect areas of land from flooding and stop CO2 emissions. Although they only cover 3 percent of the earth’s surface worldwide, they bind twice as much carbon as all the forests on our planet. This makes them an important and valuable component of climate protection that must be preserved. 

Awareness of how important peatlands are for our climate has grown in recent years. This was not always the case. In fact, peatlands have been deliberately drained in order to gain land for settlements or agriculture – especially in densely populated areas. In the European Union, for example, around half of all peatlands have been drained – more than in other regions: Overall, around 10 percent of all peatlands worldwide are drained, and every year around another 500,000 hectares of peatland are destroyed.

Drainage is problematic, among other things, because drained peatlands release the previously stored carbon dioxide (CO2) instead of binding it. The preservation and renaturation of moors is therefore an important lever for climate protection – and can help to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement to preserve the basis of our existence. In Germany alone, at least 50,000 hectares of moorland would have to be rewetted every year, as well as a further 500,000 hectares in the EU and 2 million hectares worldwide. 

Mercer supports rewetting project 

 In Germany, too, moors are being destroyed – and have been since the 18th century. The consequences are serious: of the total 1,839,000 hectares of moorland, around 1,646,000 hectares are drained and emit CO2 instead of absorbing it. They emit around 53 million tons of CO₂ equivalents* per year and are therefore responsible for almost 7 percent of all greenhouse emissions in Germany. The remaining intact moors, on the other hand, store 1.3 billion tons of carbon.

In order to strengthen climate protection, peatlands are therefore to be rewetted throughout Germany. Projects are also being initiated by non-profit associations such as the Rotary Club Wangen-Isny-Leutkirch. A few years ago, the club set itself the goal of renaturalizing the “Schwandener Moos” – a raised bog in the Isny-Leutkirch region – and thus binding around 75 tons of CO₂ every year. 

In order to stop the drainage of the soil, the first sheet pile walls were installed in the winter of 2021 to close the drainage ditches and the levels were set. This means that the soil is once again able to absorb and store rainwater. There are no other natural tributaries. The next important step followed in March 2022: with the support of 40 volunteers, bushes, pine trees and other vegetation that was not part of the natural biotope were removed. 

The project was successfully completed in November 2023. The aim now is to raise awareness of the issue among interested parties and stakeholders – for example through campaigns with school classes. The aim is to convey knowledge about the importance of the moors, their flora and fauna and to explain the restoration process. In addition, explanatory panels are planned on the visitor platform, which walkers can use to inform themselves on site. 

Mercer has supported this project with a donation of 5,000 euros.


* The unit of measurement CO₂ equivalents is used to summarize the climate impact of different greenhouse gases.
Photo: Liane Menz
Dr. Frank Meltzer, Mercer Pulp Sales (left), Winfried Kretschmann, Minister President of Baden-Württemberg (right)