Jan Köbbing

Bio­di­ver­si­ty on peat moss sites – part 1

Red-lis­ted plant spe­ci­es identified

How many plant spe­ci­es grow on Klasmann-Deilmann’s peat moss sites? And which are offi­cial­ly clas­sed as threa­tened? A doc­to­ral stu­dent at Leib­niz Uni­ver­si­ty Hannover’s Insti­tu­te of Envi­ron­men­tal Plan­ning (IUP) is addres­sing the­se ques­ti­ons. She car­ri­ed out sur­veys com­pa­ring the flo­ra on the­se sites with that at semi-natu­ral peat­land loca­ti­ons and post-extrac­tion sites under res­to­ra­ti­on, and came to a high­ly unex­pec­ted conclusion.

The objec­ti­ve of peat moss (Spha­gnum) far­ming is the sus­tainab­le use of for­mer com­mer­cial peat­fiel­ds. The­se are­as also pro­vi­de a habi­tat for at-risk flo­ra and fau­na. The pro­ject is taking place in clo­se col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with the Braun­schweig-based Thü­nen Insti­tu­te and Leib­niz Uni­ver­si­ty Hannover’s Insti­tu­te of Envi­ron­men­tal Plan­ning (IUP).

Sin­ce March 2017, Aman­da Gro­be and Lot­ta Zoch, doc­to­ral stu­dents at the IUP, have been inves­ti­ga­ting the flo­ra and fau­na on our peat moss sites. Aman­da Gro­be found at-risk, red-lis­ted plants the­re. But what exact­ly does ‘red-lis­ted’ mean?

Red lists of flo­ra and fauna

Red lists are invent­ories of ani­mals and plants that are end­an­ge­red, have disap­peared or are extinct. The Inter­na­tio­nal Uni­on for Con­ser­va­ti­on of Natu­re (IUCN) publis­hes one at regu­lar inter­vals. Also rele­vant in Ger­ma­ny are the red lists publis­hed at natio­nal and federal-sta­te level. The­se regis­ters can be used to ascer­tain how much at risk a given spe­ci­es is. They also flag up whe­re urgent action is requi­red to pro­tect threa­tened flo­ra and fau­na, and are indi­ca­tors of the decli­ne in glo­bal biodiversity.

The situa­ti­on in Germany

Ger­ma­ny is home to some 28,000 plant spe­ci­es. To draw up a red list of the country’s end­an­ge­red flo­ra, the Federal Agen­cy for Natu­re Con­ser­va­ti­on (BfN) has sur­vey­ed 13,907 of our indi­ge­nous plants – almost half – as to their vul­nera­bi­li­ty. The out­co­me: 3,990 spe­ci­es were rated by the BfN as threa­tened and 512 as extinct.

Flo­ra occur­ring on our peat moss sites

Aman­da Grobe’s sur­vey reve­a­led around 50 dif­fe­rent plant spe­ci­es (vascu­lar plants and mos­ses) gro­wing on our Spha­gnum-far­ming sites. Some 20 of the­se are red-lis­ted, inclu­ding Magel­lanic bog­moss (Spha­gnum magel­lani­cum), white beak-sedge (Rhyn­cho­spo­ra alba) and bog-rose­ma­ry (Andro­me­da poli­fo­lia). The­se plant spe­ci­es are cha­rac­te­ris­tic of rai­sed bogs. Aman­da Gro­be car­ri­ed out sur­veys com­pa­ring the flo­ra on the peat moss sites with that at semi-natu­ral peat­land loca­ti­ons and post-extrac­tion are­as under res­to­ra­ti­on. She iden­ti­fied an average of 35 plant spe­ci­es on the semi-natu­ral peat­land sites, 20 of which are on the red list for Lower Sax­o­ny and Bre­men. By com­pa­ri­son, the flo­ral diver­si­ty on the sites under res­to­ra­ti­on is lower at 15 spe­ci­es (of which five are on this red list). The­se fin­dings show that cer­tain spe­ci­es typi­cal of rai­sed bogs do not beco­me estab­lis­hed unaided in the­se re-wet­ted are­as. Howe­ver, dis­tri­bu­ting Spha­gnum spe­ci­es on for­mer peat extrac­tion sites may enhan­ce bio­di­ver­si­ty. To date, no legal pro­vi­si­on has been made for the acti­ve intro­duc­tion of typi­cal rai­sed-bog vege­ta­ti­on such as peat moss. Howe­ver, our fin­dings sug­gest this should be per­mit­ted as a form of post-extrac­tion land use. This would ent­ail adap­ting the legal frame­work and fin­ding appro­pria­te finan­cing solu­ti­ons such as com­pen­sa­ti­on pay­ment for addi­tio­nal stored car­bon or grea­ter biodiversity.

If you’d like to know which ani­mals have taken up resi­dence on our peat moss sites, click here to read the second part of our report. One suc­cess sto­ry here is the lapwing.