Successful Peatland day in 'De Zegge'

On 14 June 2024, the first event of the Peatland Platform Flanders-Netherlands (' Veenplatform Vlaanderen-Nederland') took place: the 'Er valt iets over te Zegge' Peatland Day. More than 100 nature managers, researchers and policymakers gathered in the Campine region of Antwerp to listen to peatland experts.

ADMIRE | 17/06/2024

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Clarification on current peatland issues

De Zegge was the focus of the day: Flanders' oldest nature reserve managed by the KMDA (Antwerp Zoo Foundation).

Their manager, Jef Dupain set the tone. As an introduction to the day, he briefly explained the history and issues of De Zegge. Then the bottlenecks and opportunities for restoration in De zegge but also the entire border region, were highlighted, and this each time from a different angle.

Karen Vancampenhout, professor at KU Leuven, focused on their research over the past 10 years on the peat soils in De Zegge: total carbon stocks, soil processes in the peat, soil fauna and interactions with nutrients and emissions.

Fresh off the press for quite a few participants. Tom Pinceel of Witteveen+Bos gave insight into the ecohydrological study commissioned by ANB and the insights from an integrated system analysis. He used scenario calculations to show which measures are possible in the short term to protect wetland nature cores.

In the longer term, however, sustainable system restoration is the main goal. Whether there are opportunities for such restoration was clarified by Christian Fritz and Gert-Jan van Duinen with two important approaches: using carbon credits and applying paludiculture.

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Christian Fritz of Radboud University clarified the added value of climate mitigation projects in peatlands for people and peatland nature. He highlighted the main sources of emissions, where they can be reduced and what role living peat plays in this. And he enlighted us on how carbon credits can contribute to this.

Gert-Jan van Duinen of Stichting Bargerveen then gave insights into paludiculture. He tried to give an answer to questions such as: What earning models, meaningful applications of wet crops and practical experience are there now and what is needed to take further steps towards a climate-robust landscape?

Finally, Pieter Vanormelingen of Natuurpunt Studie gave insight into their research into which species are typical for peatlands, where they still occur and what are the factors that determine their occurrence and abundance in biodiversity monitoring in peatlands. Some peat species, like Pirata tenuitarsis, the so called 'Peat pirate', are quite rare but still occur in De Zegge.

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Fascinating tour in nature reserve De Zegge

In the afternoon the participants headed towards to the nature reserve De Zegge itself for a more than fascinating tour where the project activities of Interreg ADMIRE were demonstrated and explained by the partners.

- Greenhouse gas measurements with an automatic chamber system setup (Radboud University Nijmegen)

- Adaptive peat management for the conservation of the many transitional and quaking bog habitats (Antwerp Zoo Foundation)

- Cooperation with farmers by targeting transitional areas that often consist of agricultural areas (Vlaamse Landmaatschappij (Flemish Land Agency (VLM))

- Construction of a helophyte filter to ensure the supply of treated water in the area (PIDPA)

- Biodiversity monitoring of the occurrence of typical peat species, in particular invertebrates such as spiders, grasshoppers, beetles and hoverflies, and how they respond to the management and restoration of the peat (Natuurpunt Studie)

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A day with hopeful messages for the future. The peatland in De Zegge has been strongly degraded by drainage en agricutural developments in the past. But the potential for restoration is high for the nature reserve if the right policy choices are made based in the presented studies.

Thanks to all the experts, partners and volunteers who took part!

The entire program and all the presentations (in Dutch) of our Peatland Day can be found here :

Want to see more?

-> Watch the Aftermovie by Antwerp Zoo Foundation here

-> Some more photos can be found here.

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