Kim Karotki

Inter­na­tio­nal Peat­land Socie­ty holds symposium

Fif­tieth anni­ver­s­a­ry cele­bra­ted in Rotterdam

A sym­po­si­um was held in Rot­ter­dam on the occa­si­on of the Inter­na­tio­nal Peat­land Society’s 50th anni­ver­s­a­ry. The the­me was ‘Wise use of peat­lands, past and future’.

The Inter­na­tio­nal Peat­land Socie­ty (IPS) is an orga­ni­sa­ti­on of indi­vi­du­al, cor­po­ra­te and insti­tu­tio­nal mem­bers dedi­ca­ted to the respon­si­ble manage­ment and wise use of peat­lands and peat. Con­sti­tu­ted in Que­bec, Cana­da in 1968, the IPS is now regis­tered in Fin­land, whe­re the IPS Secre­ta­ri­at is also loca­ted. Cur­r­ent­ly the IPS has 1,437 mem­bers from 41 coun­tries (2017). Our Mana­ging Direc­tor Moritz Böcking was a mem­ber of its Exe­cu­ti­ve Board from 2014 to 2018.

IPS Pre­si­dent and our for­mer col­league Gerald Schmi­lew­ski hos­ted the event, which fea­tured pre­sen­ta­ti­ons alter­na­ted with field trips. One spe­cial focus was on peat for food pro­duc­tion. This topic is of gre­at impor­t­ance for Klasmann-Deilmann: in 2017, 43.9% of our pro­ducts went to the food sec­tor, and this pro­por­ti­on is growing.

In this con­nec­tion, Chris Blok of Wagen­in­gen Uni­ver­si­ty gave a pro­jec­tion of popu­la­ti­on chan­ge until 2050 and the asso­cia­ted incre­a­se in demand for sub­stra­te con­sti­tu­ents. In 2017, the total volu­me of gro­wing media for food pro­duc­tion was 59 mil­li­on cubic metres world­wi­de, of which peat accoun­ted for 40 mil­li­on cubic metres. Demand for gro­wing media is set to more than qua­dru­p­le – to 244 mil­li­on cubic metres – by 2050, with peat’s share of this put at 80 mil­li­on cubic metres.

Bernd Hofer of engi­nee­ring con­sul­tancy Hofer and Pautz gave an esti­ma­te of glo­bal peat resour­ces and avai­la­bi­li­ty. The goal should be to extract peat only from sites cer­ti­fied to RPP (Respon­si­b­ly Pro­du­ced Peat) stan­dards. This would help to lea­ve peat­lands of high con­ser­va­ti­on value in a pris­ti­ne sta­te. Bernd Hofer also addres­sed natu­re con­ser­va­ti­on mea­su­res envi­sa­ged under the RPP sche­me, men­tio­ning one of our for­mer com­mer­cial peat­fiel­ds in Šilu­tė. The pro­por­ti­on of our extrac­tion are­as cer­ti­fied to RPP stan­dards is alrea­dy 67%, and the­se account for 75.9% of all the peat we produce.

Jan Köb­bing (Head of Sus­taina­bi­li­ty Manage­ment) gave a talk on the car­bon foot­print of sub­stra­te con­sti­tu­ents in rela­ti­on to our pro­ducts’ over­all life cycle. All CO2 equi­va­lents are incor­po­ra­ted here, right through from resour­ce extrac­tion to dis­po­sal or recy­cling, inclu­ding pro­duc­tion and trans­port, as well as use in hor­ti­cul­tu­ral busi­nes­ses, in asso­cia­ti­on with retailers, and by retail cus­to­mers. This is the ‘crad­le to gra­ve’ approach.

To find out more about this, and the alter­na­ti­ve ‘crad­le to gate’ mea­su­re, read our blog arti­cle on this topic.

The excur­si­on pro­gram­me could not inclu­de visits to natu­ral bogs, as all peat­lands in the Nether­lands are cur­r­ent­ly (or used to be) under com­mer­cial use. Accord­in­gly, the focus of the­se trips was on his­to­ri­cal and pre­sent day use of peat for hor­ti­cul­tu­re. With this in mind, the par­ti­ci­pants visi­ted a Wagen­in­gen Uni­ver­si­ty rese­arch cent­re. Tou­ring the ‘peat mea­dow­lands’ – land­s­capes which were form­er­ly peat­lands – the IPS mem­bers dis­cus­sed asso­cia­ted pro­blems such as soil sub­si­dence and green­house gas emis­si­ons, cau­sed by decom­po­si­ti­on of peat on the drai­ned sites, which relea­ses CO2 into the atmosphere.

Jan Köb­bing then drew his con­clu­si­on: “For me, this sym­po­si­um was an important gathe­ring for com­pa­ring notes with indus­try col­leagues, sci­en­tists and part­ners. And hol­ding it in the Nether­lands, the hor­ti­cul­tu­ral heart of the world, was a good choice, espe­cial­ly in terms of the hor­ti­cul­tu­ral use of peat. The event pro­vi­ded many points of con­ta­ct and inter­sec­tion with other play­ers, inclu­ding the Cana­di­an Spha­gnum Peat Moss Asso­cia­ti­on (CSPMA) and Micro­pro­pa­ga­ti­on Ser­vices Ltd., who part­ne­red us in our Spha­gnum-far­ming pro­ject.”

On the day befo­re the event, a sum­mit was held for seni­or exe­cu­ti­ves in the peat indus­try, atten­ded by Moritz Böcking. Pre­pa­ra­ti­ons for this – and inde­ed for the IPS event as a who­le – had been made by the Society’s Exe­cu­ti­ve Board at the end of August, hos­ted at the Inno­va­ti­on Cen­ter in Gees­te. The pur­po­se of this sum­mit was to rai­se awa­reness, among repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of inter­na­tio­nal com­pa­nies and other orga­ni­sa­ti­ons from the peat sec­tor, con­cer­ning the impor­t­ance of glo­bal peat­land resour­ces for the climate.