Active afforestation of drained peatlands is not a viable option under the EU Nature Restoration Law

Gerald Jurasinski, Alexandra Barthelmes, Kenneth A. Byrne, Bogdan H. Chojnicki, Jesper Riis Christiansen, Kris Decleer, Christian Fritz, Anke Beate Günther, Vytas Huth, Hans Joosten, Radosław Juszczak, Sari Juutinen, Åsa Kasimir, Leif Klemedtsson, Franziska Koebsch, Wiktor Kotowski, Ain Kull, Mariusz Lamentowicz, Amelie Lindgren, Richard LindsayRita Linkevičienė, Annalea Lohila, Ülo Mander, Michael Manton, Kari Minkkinen, Jan Peters, Florence Renou-Wilson, Jūratė Sendžikaitė, Rasa Šimanauskienė, Julius Taminskas, Franziska Tanneberger, Cosima Tegetmeyer, Rudy van Diggelen, Harri Vasander, David Wilson, Nerijus Zableckis, Dominik H. Zak, John Couwenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


The EU Nature Restoration Law (NRL) is critical for the restoration of degraded ecosystems and active afforestation of degraded peatlands has been suggested as a restoration measure under the NRL. Here, we discuss the current state of scientific evidence on the climate mitigation effects of peatlands under forestry. Afforestation of drained peatlands without restoring their hydrology does not fully restore ecosystem functions. Evidence on long-term climate benefits is lacking and it is unclear whether CO2 sequestration of forest on drained peatland can offset the carbon loss from the peat over the long-term. While afforestation may offer short-term gains in certain cases, it compromises the sustainability of peatland carbon storage. Thus, active afforestation of drained peatlands is not a viable option for climate mitigation under the EU Nature Restoration Law and might even impede future rewetting/restoration efforts. Instead, restoring hydrological conditions through rewetting is crucial for effective peatland restoration.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2-May-2024

Thematic List 2020

  • Forest
  • Protected nature

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