The Great Rewetting: why we must stop draining peatlands – worldwide and as fast as possible

November 23, 2022 at 14:00
Aula Magna, Stockholm University

The Bert Bolin Lecture on Climate Research is given annually to commemorate professor Bert Bolin and his pioneering work for climate research at Stockholm University and internationally. The speaker is selected among prominent scientists within climate research by the Faculty of Science. This years honorable speaker is Professor Hans Joosten.

Photo: Private

Photo: Private

The lecture is open for all who register and aimed toward a public audience.

Zoom link:

Please register!



Prof. Hans Joostens is an internationally renowned peatland scientist, conservationist and educator. Throughout his career, he has made extraordinary efforts to raise awareness for the role of peatlands in the Earth system. He has acted as general Secretary (since 2000) of the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG) and has been co-founder and Coordinating Committee member (since 2015) of the Greifswald Mire Centre. In 2021, he was awarded the prestigious German Environmental Award established by the German Federal Foundation for the Environment (DBU).

Although peatlands contain more carbon worldwide than all forest biomass combined, their importance has long been overlooked. Drained primarily for agriculture and forestry, peatlands emit over two gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. This means that 0.3% of the Earth’s land area is responsible for a disproportionate 5% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Possibly even more important globally is peatland subsidence: while sea levels are rising due to global warming, peatlands are literally bogged down through drainage-based land use, losing between a few millimetres to several centimetres of height per year, depending on climate and land use. Globally, we may lose 10–20 million hectares of productive land to uncontrolled flooding in the coming decades as a result. To meet the Paris climate targets, all still-natural peatlands must remain wet, those that have been drained must be rewetted and agricultural use should only take place under wet conditions.

The highest priority and the greatest challenges in rewetting lie with the agriculturally used peatlands. Until now, these have mostly been taken out of production after rewetting. However, we will no longer be able to afford this comprehensively. The development and implementation of wet production methods (“paludiculture”) is urgently needed. They can avoid the environmental damage of conventional peatland use and at the same time allow peatlands to be used productively.

The advantages of wet use of peatlands are so great in economic terms that one may ask why such “paludiculture” is not implemented quickly and across the board. However, paludiculture is contrary to the historical heritage of 10,000 years of “dry” agriculture. It usually involves a redesign of the entire production chain: from training, crop selection, technology, infrastructure and logistics, products, promotion, research to integrative value chain concepts. Payments for ecosystem services – especially carbon credits – can serve as a transitional strategy for the full implementation of paludiculture.

Peatlands must be wet: For the peatland, for the land, for the climate, forever!

The lecture is open for all who register and aimed toward high school students.

Please register!

Contact information

Visiting addresses:

Geovetenskapens Hus,
Svante Arrhenius väg 8, Stockholm

Arrheniuslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16, Stockholm (Unit for Toxicological Chemistry)

Mailing address:
Department of Environmental Science
Stockholm University
106 91 Stockholm

Press enquiries should be directed to:

Stella Papadopoulou
Science Communicator
Phone +46 (0)8 674 70 11

Department of Environmental Science
Stockholm university

Department of Environmental Science
Stockholm University
SE-106 91 Stockholm

Geovetenskapens hus,
Svante Arrhenius väg 8, Stockholm

Svante Arrhenius väg 16, Stockholm