BUFFER+: Restoring Peat Landscapes for a Sustainable Future

Imagine a global initiative supported by the European Union, dedicated to the restoration and revitalization of peat landscapes. Buffer+ is realising this vision by working with 21 partners and 7 associated organisations from North West Europe. Our joint objective is to restore peatlands, address climate change and promote biodiversity.

The Challenge

Peatlands are nature's experts in carbon storage and water management, making them indispensable in our fight against climate change. Around 30% of the world's soil carbon is stored in peatlands. Throughout centuries in North-West Europe (NWE), human activities have led to the drainage of these lands, resulting in the release of CO2 into the atmosphere instead of its storage in the soil.

To improve the economic viability of rewetting strategies for peatlands, we are exploring alternatives such as paludiculture and peat substrate replacement. Paludiculture involves cultivating crops in waterlogged or wetland areas. Once peatlands have been rewetted, growing flood-tolerant plant species not only helps to store carbon, but also provides alternative products for farmers.

Peat is also used as a component of horticultural growing media. To promote more sustainable growing options and move away from peat, we need to assess the accessibility, sustainability and economic viability of these substitutes. These are some of the strategies explored in Buffer+. All innovative approaches within the project share the same goal: to contribute to peatland restoration and sustainable land use.

The Core Objectives of BUFFER+

To address the issues concerning Peatlands Buffer+ partners are working together on the following key objectives:

  • Sustainable Rewetting, Restoration, and Conservation: our primary objective is to restore peatland areas through sustainable rewetting, with a focus on preserving the long-term health of these vital ecosystems.
  • New Business Models: BUFFER+ is dedicated to develop new business models that can thrive in restored peatlands, opening up new opportunities for economic growth.
  • Improved Cooperation: we’re bringing together industry, academia, governments, and local communities in the collective effort to restore peatlands.

The Role of Bioclear earth

In Buffer +, Bioclear earth plays a crucial role in understanding the influence of soil management on soil microbiology and overall soil health. We collect soil samples at different pilot sites for in-depth microbial analysis. Using advanced DNA sequencing, we uncover the microbial composition and functions, shedding light on soil health, microbial diversity and carbon uptake in rewetted peatlands.

Integrating Data and Engaging Stakeholders

The valuable data collected from the soil assessments will be integrated with other project tools to create a user-friendly interface for stakeholders. This interface is designed to improve decision-making and to emphasise the value of peatlands in climate change mitigation, water management and biodiversity conservation.

Conclusion: Reviving Peatlands for a Sustainable Future

BUFFER+ unites diverse expertise to restore and safeguard peat landscapes in North-West Europe. By emphasizing sustainable rewetting, fostering innovative business models, and improving cooperation, the project tackles the challenges posed by drained peatlands. As BUFFER+ progresses, the data and insights gathered by Bioclear earth and other collaborators will empower stakeholders to make well-informed decisions and contribute to the preservation of peatlands, offering hope for a more sustainable and resilient future.

Website: https://bufferplus.nweurope.eu/

If you want to know more about this project, please contact Afnan Suleiman.

Afnan Suleiman
Soil microbiologist