A long-term carbon sink.

Climate protection – it’s all in the peat.

How does it work?

Protecting moorlands from destruction prevents the massive release of CO2 in the short term and ensures that carbon can continue to be bound in the long term. But how do moors do this?

Human-caused climate change is the biggest challenge of our time. The main reason for this is the sharp rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) since industrialisation. This harmful greenhouse gas accelerates global warming by preventing the radiation of thermal energy in the earth's atmosphere into space. Intact moors store carbon – and have been doing so for centuries.

The moorlands in Central Europe were formed after the end of the Ice Age. In these wetlands, which are low in nutrients and oxygen, dead plant material is preserved rather than decomposed. Moorlands grow by converting around 10% of the CO2 absorbed by plants into carbon-rich peat in the absence of air after they die. In the past, this made peat a sought-after source of energy, which also played a main role in the depletion of moors.

However, despite their slow growth of 0.5 to 2 mm per year, the remaining moorlands have become enormous carbon sinks over the last 11,000 years. Moors bind one third of terrestrial carbon; every year, they remove 150 to 250 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere worldwide. This is why moorland protection must be an indispensable part of our fight against climate change.

Intact moorlands also produce the greenhouse gas methane. It is produced during natural peat formation in moors and does not affect its undoubtedly favourable carbon footprint. However, moorlands aren’t just uniquely effective climate sinks. Their hydraulic properties, helped also by the highly absorbent peat moss, mean they function like giant sponges. By storing water when it rains and releasing it into the environment when it is dry, moorlands prevent damage from flooding and heat waves. Moorlands also act as a filter by permanently binding nutrients and pollutants dissolved in the water during peat formation.

Types of moorland.