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Moors, peat & climate

Image by Maksim Shutov

Bogs store about twice as much carbon as all forests on earth put together. But bogs are still being drained, leading to an enormous release of CO2. Peat from these bogs often ends up in shopping carts unintentionally.

What are bogs?


Bogs are wetlands that formed at the end of the Ice Age.

They consist of 95% water and 5% dead plants that have not or only partially decomposed due to a lack of oxygen. These plants store all the carbon they have collected during their lifetime.

3-4% of the surface of this world are bogs. Despite the small area, they store twice as much carbon as all the forests on earth put together.


Peatlands are of great importance for biodiversity, bird migration, as freshwater reservoirs and as filters for pollutants. In addition, they play a very important role in our climate - both positively and negatively, as will be explained in more detail below. Intact wetlands are also the best protection against floods and droughts.



Moore & climate


Peatlands are the most space-efficient long-term carbon reservoirs in our planet's biosphere. They make up 3% of the world's surface, but store between 600 and 1000 gigatons of CO2 (depending on the source) - that's about twice as much as all the forests on earth put together!


Despite these facts, these valuable biotopes are being destroyed all over the world.

The reasons: Creation of areas for intensive agriculture and commercial forests through drainage. Peat is also an important raw material for gardening and landscaping.


Since 1750 we have destroyed 95% of the originally 1.8 million hectare moors in Germany. The EU is currently the number 2 peat extractor, with Russia number 3 and Indonesia number 1.

“Ten million cubic meters of peat are used in Germany every year, around two and a half million of which are sold to German recreational gardeners. This quantity, packed in 50 L garden soil bags and laid out one after the other, would result in a total length of approx. 40,000 km, which corresponds to a complete circumnavigation of the earth along the equator!


When the carbon in the moors comes into contact with oxygen when the moors are drained, peat is broken down and the areas are tilled, each tonne of stored carbon becomes 3.7t of CO2 - a carbon store becomes a source of CO2. This means that every hectare releases around 37 tons of CO2 per year - as much as a mid-size car travels 185,000 kilometers.

Although 85% of the world's peatlands are still largely intact, the previously drained peatlands, which make up only 0.4 percent of the land surface, are already releasing 2 gigatonnes of CO2 every year.

In Germany, 5% of all CO2 emissions come from former moors, which is more than we can save with all the wind turbines. Worldwide it is even 6-7% of the total CO2 emissions, which corresponds to about twice the global air traffic - per year(!).


In addition, nitrous oxide (N20) is produced - a gas that is three hundred times more harmful to the climate than CO2.

A vicious circle is set in motion: the dried-up moors release greenhouse gases - these heat up climate change - as a result, periods of drought become more frequent, in which the moors dry out even more....

In addition, there is a great risk that the dry moors will catch fire, which in turn is highly harmful to the climate. This so-called bog fire is very difficult to extinguish because the peat continues to burn underground.


According to current estimates, which have not yet been definitively verified, drained peat soils including peat fires etc. are therefore still responsible for a significantly higher proportion - up to 30 percent - of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions.³
Do you want to get active yourself?


Find out where in Hall you can buy peat-free soil below orsimply mix your potting soil yourself. Exchanges inexchange forumShare your experiences or questions and share in theexchange forumPeat-free young plants - from tomato young plants to perennial offshoots.

Are you already gardening peat-free? Sluggishhere Enter your garden into the Nabu card. In addition, you can help finance bog protection so that bogs can be revived: Purchase aMoorFuture certificate- Costs from 8.5 euros - and save 100kg to 1 ton (for 64€) CO2 over a guaranteed period of 50 years. Or willbog godfather (from €8).

Moore & Politics


The yield from agricultural use of these areas is so low that they only bring benefits to farmers through high subsidies. Working on moors that is harmful to the climate is even rewarded: European farmers receive a total of more than one billion euros in direct payments every year for using drained moor soils for cattle pasture or, even more harmfully, as arable land – for growing maize, for example. Biogas or fuel from corn on moorland has a much worse quality Carbon footprint than burning lignite.

After the soil has been rewetted, an alternative land use is paludiculture, climate-friendly agriculture and forestry on wet moorland.

In contrast to the drainage-based management of the moors, plant species that are adapted to high water levels, such as reeds, cattails and peat mosses, are cultivated in paludiculture and recycled. Various established processes enable processing into ecological insulating, building and peat substitutes as well as biorefinery products, energetic utilization as (solid) fuel. So far, however, palludiculture has not been eligible for funding and a farmer loses the area premium of 300 euros per hectare to which he is entitled under the EU agricultural policy guidelines.(4)


Achieving the goals agreed in the Paris Agreement and a lasting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is only possible by rewetting the moorland.

In order to decisively promote the protection of the remaining intact moors and the renaturation of degraded moors, the coalition agreement contains the mandate to develop a moor protection strategy for the federal government and to implement the first measures during this legislative period.


Moore & us


Conventional garden and potting soil consists of up to 90% peat. In order to obtain garden and potting soil, 6.5 million tons of peat are mined from the moors in Lower Saxony every year in Germany, and an additional 2.5 million tons are imported from the Baltic States.


Many hobby gardeners fill their flower boxes and raised beds with soil containing peat, thereby unknowingly contributing to the destruction of valuable biotopes, water and carbon storage. We buy peat with most potted plants and seedlings, and our vegetables are often grown in greenhouses on peat soil.

Peat is even less suitable as a substrate for balconies and gardens than garden soil, compost and the like:

  1. Peat is a good water reservoir - but only as long as it never dries out. Once dry, the water runs past it and is no longer available to the plants.

  2. Peat absorbs so much water that the roots don't get enough air

  3. Peat contains practically no nutrients and counteracts the formation of humus

  4. Peat leads to an unfavorable shift in soil pH

What can we do?


When purchasing potting soil, look for products that are declared as "peat-free". You can't find soil without peat in the shop? Just ask for soil without peat - the demand determines the supply :)! Fortunately, there is now a large range of peat-free soil in Hall - we just have to grab it!

Some products containing peat will list the peat content in fine print on the back, but many do not. These products usually contain raised bog peat. The same applies to "peat-reduced" or "peat-poor" soils, which can consist of up to 80 percent peat.

A closer look also applies to "organic" soils - the term "organic" is not protected for potting soil and is used by some manufacturers asgreen cloakabused.

                    This overview of peat-free soils in the Hall markets

          _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_         kann Euch den Einkauf erleichtern :)!


At BAG Hohenlohe, peat-free soils are now also declared as such on the sign.


Have you found other brands that produce peat-free soil or stores in or around Hall that sell it? Then we look forward to hearing from you (please use the contact form) and will be happy to include your tips!

Peat-reduced vegetables around Hall


In principle, no peat is used on fields. However, the rearing of young plants is problematic. As a rule, inexpensive press plates are used for this, which cannot do without the use of peat, since other substrates do not hold together sufficiently. In comparison, the use of alternative methods is much more labor-intensive and therefore more expensive, so that the cultivation of young plants with peat is standard.

Unlike this problem for commercial growers, peat-free soils for home use tick all the boxes!


In Schwäbisch Hall and the surrounding area, we still have the opportunity to obtain at least vegetables from significantly reduced peat cultivation:


Solavi Hall


The Solawi grows all plants herself from seed-solid seeds. The work is already significantly reduced in peat. Only about half is sown in press plates, and when repotting, peat-free substrate is already used. The aim is to further reduce the use of peat in the long term.


Hof Engelhardt, Bioland-Hof Klein-Comburg and other organic farmers

The young plant company Natterer supplies practically all organic farmers in southern Germany who do not grow themselves (which almost nobody does). The Natterer company has not been able to do without peat either, but is also making every effort to reduce the use of peat.

In the case of supermarket goods, on the other hand, it can be assumed that they were produced under high price pressure and were therefore sown in peat.


Unfortunately, we do not yet know how other farmers in the region cultivate young plants - we would be happy to receive information about other farms that are trying to reduce peat (please use the contact form for this - thank you).

peat-free young plants for the garden around Hall

In Karin Öchslen's small nursery there are aromatic, medicinal and aromatic herbs as well as various tomato seedlings in spring, which are grown according to biological and organic principles (but without certification). It has no fixed opening hours, as it is run as a sideline. There is an ex-yard sale, which usually takes place on Fridays and Saturdays. It is best to make an appointment in advance. You can find the small nursery here: Karin Öchslen, Alte Steige 18, 74547 Untermünkeim-Haagen. Appointments can be made by calling 0791-9464611.


Further information and sources








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