Peatland researcher Joosten receives German Environmental Award

Portrait Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joosten - Photo: Tobias Dahms

DBU Secretary General Alexander Bonde calls Joosten's work “highly valuable. There is almost no other person, who advocates our need for peatland areas as climate protectors so adamantly.” They are “essential allies” in the fight against the climate crisis. According to Bonde: “Worldwide, about one-fifth of the peatland areas have already been drained. And in Germany, it is almost 95 percent, with serious consequences for greenhouse gas emissions.” Rewetting and habitat restoration are “the order of the day” and “a crucial key” for binding carbon dioxide (CO2) naturally. Joosten has also coined the term "paludiculture", "the nature-friendly use of peatlands and thus the restoration of this habitat which is so essential for climate protection". 

"Hans Joosten, one of the world's leading peatland researchers, has spent more than 25 years researching and teaching at the University of Greifswald and has contributed towards the rewetting of peatlands with scientific expertise, remarkable perseverance, and great passion. The University of Greifswald can look back on almost 200 years of very successful peatland research. As a collaboration partner of the Greifswald Mire Centre, we are therefore very proud that Mr Joosten's commitment is now being honoured with the German Environmental Award and that the public will thus be made more aware of the potential of peatlands for climate protection and peatland research as a whole," says Prof. Dr Katharina Riedel, Rector of the University of Greifswald.

Hans Joosten was boen in 1955 in Liessel in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. Having studied biology and stopping off at various scientific stations in the Netherlands, Joosten came to the Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology at the University of Greifswald in 1996. There he was Chair of Peatland Studies and Palaeoecology until his retirement in 2021, receiving the title of außerplanmäßiger Professor (senior lecturer) in 2008. The German Environmental Award acknowledges “how beautiful and, above all, how important peatlands are for climate protection, because they store twice as much carbon in their peats on three percent of the earth's land surface as all of the world's forests store in their biomass on around 30 percent of the land surface.” Joosten warns, however: “The drainage of peatland soils, especially for agricultural and forestry use, fuels climate change, because it releases enormous amounts of greenhouse gases." 

Joosten wants to use the prize money to expand the "PeNCIL" peatland library, which is based at the Greifswald Mire Centre (GMC) and is the world's largest peatland library with around 25,000 publications, into a global knowledge and cultural centre for peatlands. Founded in 2015, the GMC is a cooperation between the University of Greifswald, the Michael Succow Foundation, and the DUENE society. The goal of the GMC is what Joosten has been committed towards throughout his life as a researcher and why he is now being honoured by the DBU: to protect natural peatlands from drainage, to rewet drained peatlands, and to only use peatlands in their wet state. Joosten created the term “paludiculture” for this, a description now used throughout the world by experts when addressing climate-friendly agricultural use of wet raised bogs and fens. 

Further Information
Website Greifswald Mire Centre
Working group for Peatland Studies and Palaeoecology at the University of Greifswald
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This news article is an excerpt and translation of the press release published by the German Federal Environmental Foundation [de].

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