Wet peatland utilisation for climate protection: An international survey of paludiculture innovation

R. Ziegler*, W. Wichtmann, S. Abel, R. Kemp, M. Simard, H. Joosten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Drainage-base agriculture and forestry are key drivers of emissions from degraded peatlands. An important challenge of climate-oriented peatland management is an improved conservation of their huge carbon stocks. Paludiculture, the productive use of wet peatlands, is a promising land use alternative that reduces greenhouse gas emissions substantially since it requires rewetting of peatlands. As rewetting is accompanied by productive use, it offers a sustainability innovation for farmers and other land users. There is an emerging knowledge base on paludiculture but no empirical study of paludiculture and its diffusion as an international innovation. The paper closes this research gap presenting the results of a survey of paludiculture projects in a variety of global contexts. It shows paludiculture to be an emerging, science-driven and collaborative innovation that faces adverse path-dependency from drained peatland exploitation. There is a diversity of paludicultures for fuel, fodder, horticultural substrate and construction material, but these are rarely directly commercially viable. A third of initiatives see themselves in continuity with traditional but often marginalized uses of peatlands. Paludiculture is a complex, critical sustainability innovation mission calling for a multiple-objective strategy and a sustainability-oriented form of governance. As biomass from paludiculture per se can almost never compete with dryland alternatives, we recommend i) to initiate and sustain large-scale programmes to develop products that exploit the unique properties of wetland plants across market, public and communal uses, ii) to develop integrative concepts for payments for ecosystem services associated with wet peatlands, iii) a complementary focus on ending subsidies and policy support for drainage-based peatland use, as well as iv) inclusive stakeholder involvement from the start as well as sustained policy support to foster paludiculture as the productive niche within a culture of living sustainably with peatlands
Original languageEnglish
Article number100305
Number of pages13
JournalCleaner Engineering and Technology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

JEL classifications

  • q55 - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
  • o31 - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives


  • Climate change
  • Innovation mission
  • Paludiculture
  • Peatlands
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainability innovation

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