Assessing greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands using vegetation as a proxy

Abstract

Drained peatlands in temperate Europe are a globally important source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This article outlines a methodology to assess emissions and emission reductions from peatland rewetting projects using vegetation as a proxy. Vegetation seems well qualified for indicating GHG fluxes from peat soils as it reflects long-term water level, affects GHG emissions via assimilate supply and aerenchyma and allows fine-scaled mapping. The methodology includes mapping of vegetation types characterised by the presence and absence of species groups indicative for specific water level classes. GHG flux values are assigned to the vegetation types following a standardized protocol and using published emission values from plots with similar vegetation and water level in regions with similar climate and flora. Carbon sequestration in trees is accounted for by estimating the annual sequestration in tree biomass from forest inventory data. The method follows the criteria of the Voluntary Carbon Standard and is illustrated using the example of two Belarusian peatlands.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) for financing the project II.C. 53 as well as the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) for financing two expert positions in Belarus. Additional financial support was provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Environment and Consumer Protection of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The authors thank the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (especially Alexander Kozulin and Alexander Sudnik) and APB BirdLife Belarus (especially Viktar Fenchuk) for fruitful discussions and their openness to think about new approaches, and Igino Emmer (Silvestrum) for his comments on the manuscript. The authors are grateful for the constructive criticism by two anonymous reviewers.

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Correspondence to John Couwenberg.

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Guest editors: Dominik Zak, Robert McInnes, Jörg Gelbrecht / Restoration, biogeochemistry and ecological services of wetlands

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Couwenberg, J., Thiele, A., Tanneberger, F. et al. Assessing greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands using vegetation as a proxy. Hydrobiologia 674, 67–89 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-011-0729-x

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Keywords

  • Bioindication
  • Bog
  • Emission reduction
  • Fen
  • Restoration
  • Rewetting
  • Succession