#2 Global Landscapes Forum IV, Economy and Peatlands

While largely unfamiliar to many, peatlands perform crucial funcions in Earth’s carbon and water cycles.  For many centuries we have been draining peatlands to free up land for commodity agriculture, destroying these important living systems.  We now are growing aware of the effects of draining peatlands, and some folks are exploring ways to preserve and restore these wet ecologies while still being able to produce and harvest biomass and other crops from these areas.  This sort of peatland agriculture is called paludiculture.

In part 4 of this 5 part series at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany, we will hear John D. Liu interview 3 individuals who are working to change agriculture, finance, and policy so that they work to restore, rather than drain peatlands.

Jans Joosten, one of the world’s foremost experts on peatlands, is head of the Department of Peatland Studies and Paleoecology of Greifswald University.  (http://greifswaldmoor.de/home.html)  He will describe how peatlands function and some of the consequences of draining them.  Through his research, writing, and policy advising he has helped to protect and restore peatlands all over the world.

Annawati van Paddenburg is Head of Sustainable Landscapes at the Investment and Policy Solutions Division of the Global Green Growth Initiative. (http://gggi.org/theme/sustainable-landscapes/)  With member countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia-Pacific, she has worked on climate and food security and sustainable growth in forest, agriculture, coastal, and marine areas.

Growing up in rural Indonesia, she is motivated by her observations of the destructive effects of business on the pristine landscapes of her childhood.  The Indonesian government has recently determined to rewet their drained peatlands, and she is working with them to develop commodity production business models that support both local communities and peatland ecologies.

Aldert van Weeren is a cattail farmer. (http://wetlandproducts.com/) After rewetting and restoring peatland areas, intending to sustainably harvest cattails for housing insulation, he found that he had legally created nature reserves and was not allowed to harvest from them.  He and others have been working to change these policies so that folks like him can restore and preserve peatland function while producing a nontoxic, renewable source of housing insulation.

Michael DiGiorgio recorded the banjo-bird jams I’m using in the intro and ending.  You can find his amazing nature art at mdigiorgio.com .  Mike says that if you’d like to buy the album of his nature-banjo jams, you can find his email on his website and he can mail you a CD.

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