Hans von Sonntag | 02.02. 2024

In 2021, together with our partner Global Peatlands Initiative (UNEP), we already gained experience in raising awareness of peatlands in the run-up to COP 26 in Glasgow with international campaigns on peatlands in social media. Leveraging these experiences in 2023, we at Eurosite realised two social media campaigns with our partners, Greifswald Mire Centre and Climate Catalyst, to raise awareness for Germany’s dire peatland situation.

The Spring and Summer Campaigns have been notable achievements. They’ve engaged a substantial audience, reaching 5.1 million unique Germans with our narrative on greenhouse gas-emitting peatlands. Both campaigns were primarily based on climate protection but added an extra benefit to each campaign. In spring, we chose to add fostering biodiversity and water retention in summer.

We created 15 videos explaining the problems arising from degraded peatlands from the perspective of locally affected people. Photos Hans von Sonntag


Authenticity and mutual trust are crucial

One critical insight we gained is the effectiveness of authentic voices. I can’t stress this enough—the old adage that content rules still holds true.

Allowing affected individuals, primarily the farmers historically responsible for peatland drainage, to share their stories yielded particularly positive results. On Facebook alone, our content accumulated over 414,300 minutes of viewing, and our paid ads achieved an impressive 1,455,492 video thruplays. These numbers are remarkable, considering the complexity of our subject matter.

However, our campaign wasn’t without its challenges. We initially didn’t anticipate the need for a new Facebook channel, causing delays in our plans. Nevertheless, this was an unexpected opportunity, as the new channel gained over 3,000 followers, becoming a thriving platform in its own right.

Kendlmühlfilzen is a largely intact raised bog near Lake Chiemsee, Upper Bavaria, Germany, protected by the Natura-2000 network. Photo Hans von Sonntag


New relationships

A noteworthy outcome of the campaign was the formation of connections with peatland farmers and businesses encountered during our shoots. These relationships hold promise for future carbon and blue credit schemes, which we’re actively exploring as part of our conservation efforts through the Eurosite Conservation Finance Accelerator.

The Esterwegerdose, an exploited peatland in northern Germany, lost its status as a nature preserve in the 1950ies. Photo Hans von Sonntag


The peatlands issue going mainstream

With over 5.6 million impressions across various platforms and a reach of 5.1 million unique individuals, we’ve effectively conveyed the message about Germany’s greenhouse gas-emitting peatlands to a broad audience.

Additionally, our campaign contributed to increased media attention on peatlands in Germany’s mainstream media. This unexpected surge in awareness created a favourable backdrop for our campaign. It reinforced our efforts to educate and engage the public on peatland rewetting. Today, the peatland issue is better rooted in Germany’s collective consciousness than ever.

The Greifswald Mire Centre owns a big chunk of that success. It’s a world-renowned peatland research and advocacy powerhouse with invaluable connections to real-world peatland communities, which we were able to leverage in our campaign.

Collaboration is essential for success

Our collaboration with Climate Catalyst has been precious, too. While we initially faced challenges aligning our conservation-focused approach with their business-oriented perspective, it evolved into a mutually beneficial learning experience.

Eurosite’s engagement with the private sector is in its early stages, and we see the potential for bridging the gap between the business world and our conservation-focused members.

Climate Catalyst’s contribution to the European peatlands community has been significant, and their departure marks a loss in our collective efforts to address environmental challenges.

As this chapter concludes, our campaign has laid the groundwork for further achievements in peatland conservation and beyond. The journey continues, and we’re excited to see where it takes us next.

Indispensable information on peatlands:

If you have questions, please contact me at info@eurosite.org

Below Silke Kumar, peat entrepreneur and researcher, wants to replace fossil peat with freshly harvested peat moss for horticulture. The first steps are promising.