Peat is manufactured, among other things, by algae. There are floating peat mosses, which simply lie on the water, but there are also peat moss that form outcrops, which can retain rainwater and grow upward without drying out. These types of hump-forming mosses are essential for the peat to grow back.
Jules Limpens, an algae researcher from Wageningen University, says that raised bogs have their own ecosystem, which is “a beautiful system that I would like to see in our country.” “But besides being very beautiful, it is also very useful.” A growing upland bog stores more carbon dioxide per hectare than a forest. “If we can put this peat to work again, we will help the climate too,” Limpins says.
It extends thousands of kilometers
Limpens from Wageningen University and colleagues from Staatsbosbeheer and research agency B-Ware are now looking for places in De Peel where they can plant cuttings of upland peat from a planting in Bargerveen.
“That may seem strange, because peat moss spreads with spores. It easily travels hundreds or even thousands of kilometers through the air, so you might think that spreading wouldn’t be a problem. But we still see that those spores don’t grow as quickly as moss plants,” Limpins says. The new ones grow, because they lose competition with all those plants that grow so quickly in our nitrogen-rich landscape. We have learned from experience that mind transplantation works.”
Waiting for rainy weather
Researchers have now found several promising sites in Grote Peel and Deurnse Peel. “Now we have to wait for the rainy autumn weather,” Limpins says. “If it’s too hot and too dry, the cuttings will dry out straight away. We’ll only start planting when it’s a little wetter. We hope the peat cuttings will grow back in the coming years.”