Conference: Power to the Peatlands

Power to the Peatlands: University of Orléans and other experts meet in Antwerp to fight Europe’s climate and biodiversity crisis


From September 19-21, 2023, Interreg North-West Europe’s Care-Peat, the University of Antwerp, Natuurpunt, Eurosite, and partner organisations will host a landmark conference in Antwerp, Belgium. Aiming to reposition peatlands at the core of European nature and climate policy, the event is expected to be the largest gathering of peatland experts in Europe, attracting over 550 attendees globally. “After the disastrous July vote in the European Parliament on the Nature Restoration Law where peatland goals were provisionally destroyed, we urgently need to put the crucial benefits peatlands offer us on a pedestal”, organisers say.

The conference will delve into scientific, managerial, and policy dimensions of peatland restoration, drawing a diverse crowd of stakeholders. Most of Europe’s leading peatland experts will be present. “Attendees will engage in lectures, workshops, and field visits across Belgium and the Netherlands, sharing expertise on peatland conservation strategies. The event will top in a visit to premier peatland sites in both countries”, says Juliette Mazeron from University of Orléans.

University of Orléans is closely involved with the organisation as partner of Care-Peat and because there are responsible of La Guette peatland pilot site.
The message of the conference is not only a wake-up call for European policymakers to do more for our crucial peatlands. Also member states must urgently take action.

During the conference’s closing session on September 20th, University of Orléans and other organisers will reveal a joint declaration featuring evidence-based policy recommendations for European peatlands. “With over 550 delegates representing diverse sectors from all over Europe and beyond, the call for urgent action on peatland conservation, restoration and sustainable use cannot be ignored. In the European Parliament’s July vote on the EU Nature Restoration Law, ambitious peatland restoration objectives were disappointingly neglected. A swift agreement among EU institutions on robust peatland targets, especially for the ones under agricultural use, is now imperative for initiating large-scale rewetting action to elevate the critical benefits of peatlands.

Over half of the EU’s peatlands are degraded due to human activities, mainly draining, significantly contributing to climate change by emitting large amounts of carbon. For context, drained organic soils globally emit twice the annual greenhouse gases as aviation. As the EU is the second-largest global emitter of drained peatlands, urgent action is needed to halt further degradation and prioritise peatland recovery. Rudy van Diggelen, prof. dr. Ecosystem Management University of Antwerp and Conference programme chair: “Despite strong opposition to peatland restoration, momentum is growing across Europe, as climate change poses an unparalleled threat to humanity, with dried-out peatlands being significant emitters of greenhouse gases. The Power to the Peatlands Conference will convene scientists, conservationists, policymakers, farmers, and businesses to explore large-scale rewetting solutions. We need to act now to prevent further degradation and encourage the greater recovery of our remaining peatlands”.

>> The full programme for the three-day symposium can be found here.

>> The link to the online registration can be found here.