Employees affected by a peatland restoration project


The drained moors in Germany emit as many emissions annually as the entire German air traffic. For centuries, peatlands have been drained to meet the growing demand for settlement and agricultural land [1]. Systematic drainage has led to the draining of around 95% of the mire ecosystems, so that today only just under 4% of Germany's surface area is covered with classic mire. The consequences for climate and nature conservation are immense. In their intact state, peatlands act as carbon reservoirs, but when drained, the previously stored greenhouse gases are released unhindered into the atmosphere. Thus, drained peatlands in Germany emit about 53 million tons of CO2 equivalents and are thus responsible for 7% of total German greenhouse gas emissions [2].  

In the Action Program Natural Climate Protection (ANK), the German government has dedicated one of ten fields of action to the topic of peatlands and is striving for the rewetting of drained peatland soils [3]. The consequences of rewetting hundreds of thousands of hectares are likely to be clearly felt - especially in regions rich in peatlands. Therefore, we have addressed the questions: Where are the peatlands? And how many employees are directly or indirectly affected? 

The chart shows – unsurprisingly – large-scale peatland regions (in red) in the northern states of Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but also in Brandenburg and occasionally in Baden-Württemberg or Bavaria.

For the calculation of affected employees, the 33 most affected counties were selected according to CO2 emissions from peatlands. With the result that in the areas of agriculture and forestry almost 73,000 jobs are affected. These 33 affected counties account for nearly 21% of the 350,000 employees in the industry nationwide. In total, nearly 2.1 million employees work in the 33 affected counties, who are likely to feel at least indirect consequences of rewetting.

The renaturation of peatlands is likely to be almost inevitable from the point of view of climate and nature conservation. However, the challenges involved are complex - not to mention the lack of skilled workers.

Other figures can be found here.

[1] Bruisch, K. (2023): Trockenlegung von Mooren: Zerstörung & Gewalt. Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung vom 10. Januar 2023. https://www.boell.de/de/2023/01/10/trockenlegung-von-mooren-eine-lange-geschichte-voller-zerstoerung-und-gewalt [27.06.2023].

[2] Tiemeyer, B. (2023): Trockengelegte Moore: So viele Emissionen wie der gesamte deutsche Flugverkehr. Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung vom 10. Januar 2023. https://www.boell.de/de/2023/01/10/trockengelegte-moore-so-viele-emissionen-wie-der-gesamte-deutsche-flugverkehr [27.06.2023].

[3] Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz (BMUV) (2023): Das Aktionsprogramm Natürlicher Klimaschutz (ANK) der Bundesregierung in Kürze. https://www.bmuv.de/fileadmin/Daten_BMU/Download_PDF/Naturschutz/ank_kurzfassung_bf.pdf [27.06.2023].

Our figure of the month 07/2023

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