Hans von Sonntag | 04.09. 2023

Today, neither the speed nor scale of peatland restoration is anywhere near what is needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C. Europe must scale up its peatland restoration activities by orders of magnitude to stop its degraded peatlands from emitting climate-harming greenhouse gases.

Eurosite believes that partnering with landowners, investors, and project developers is crucial for building scalable models for peatland restoration and accelerating the regeneration of Europe’s most important natural climate solution.

Led by Inga Račinska, Eurosite’s new Peatland Restoration Accelerator (EPRA) partners with AECO to combine project development know-how, financial acumen, and capital access for scaling up peatland restoration efforts. There are multiple challenges to large-scale peatland restoration in Europe:

    • Agricultural path dependency: Peatlands have historically been drained for farming. Restoring them threatens current business models and cultural traditions, particularly where the farm use of peatlands has become integral to people’s livelihoods and identities.
    • Risk aversion: Stakeholder groups resist policy changes with unclear effects on the profitability of future land uses. Rewetted peatlands today offer limited options to generate income, as wet agriculture in Europe is still in its infancy, aside from small-scale pilot projects.
    • Fragmentation: Ownership of peatlands is often scattered and spread across multiple jurisdictions. Coordinating restoration efforts on the catchment level is thus a complex and time-consuming enterprise.
    • Funding: Financing peatland restoration is an administrative challenge despite the availability of European and national public funding programmes. Involving the private sector is crucial because public money is insufficient to bridge the funding gap.
    • Awareness: Unlike reforestation, peatland rewetting is still a niche topic, largely overlooked by the public and policymakers.
    • Capacity: Peatland restoration requires significant upfront investments during the early stages of project development. While it is comparatively easy to find funding for mature projects, there is a shortage of seed funding to create the necessary capacity for delivering a pipeline of investable projects.
Winterly farmland in Northern Germany 2022. As the drained carbon-based soil loses its protecting water, it oxidises to CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and the farmers literally lose their land to the atmosphere. Photo Hans von Sonntag


Eurosite helps members scale up peatland restoration

Eurosite intends to tackle those challenges by assisting peatland restoration practitioners in developing investable projects. We connect them to funders, raise public awareness of the urgency of peatland restoration and explore alternative business models on rewetted peatlands. Thus, we help our members build the capacity to scale peatland restoration across Europe.

Our funding models are tailored blended finance solutions, allowing landowners, land users and local communities to participate in the value generated from restoring ecosystem functions.

Peatland restoration requires navigating a complex mix of technical, economic, and political factors, not to mention embedded social norms and identities. Eurosite and AECO aim to unite stakeholders, designing each restoration project to rejuvenate community identities, strengthen local economies, offer farmers a sustainable future, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If you are interested, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the coordinator of Eurosite’s Peatland Restoration Accelerator, Inga Rainska at iracinska@eurosite.org