A multi-disciplinary research framework for assessing peatland rewetting effects on ecosystem functioning and societal values

Last changed: 11 September 2023
Boreal Forest ditch

About 1.5-2.0 million hectares of natural peatlands in Sweden have been drained during the past century with the aim to increase timber production. These drainage activities have largely affected soil biogeochemistry and vegetation dynamics with consequences for several key ecosystem services, including reduced benefits for climate and biodiversity. At present, there is a high interest and activity level within the Swedish governmental agencies and forest stakeholders to restore these disturbed ecosystems back towards a more natural state via rewetting measures. However, these activities currently lack well-developed policy support as well as a comprehensive empirical assessment of synergies and tradeoffs among these different ecosystem services under drained and rewetted conditions.

Project implementation

To fill these knowledge gaps, a multi-disciplinary research project bridging science and management is being launched to explore questions related to climate impact (WP1), biodiversity (WP2) and policy (WP3) for drained and rewetted peatland forests in boreal Sweden.

The specific research questions to be answered in each of the WPs are as follows:

  • WP1: What is the impact of peatland rewetting on the carbon and greenhouse gas balances, soil biogeochemistry and run-off water quality in a high-productive boreal peatland forest?
  • WP2: How does vegetation composition, epigaeic insect assemblages composition and pollinator diversity change following peatland rewetting?
  • WP3: Which social parameters, with emphasis on policy support, social acceptance and impact on human well-being, are essential for promoting peatland rewetting?

Sharing of the knowledge gained across the various fields and disciplines is central to this project. A synthesis of the results from WP1-3 will at the end of the project enable us to evaluate the potential tradeoffs and synergies of boreal peatland restoration on ecosystem functioning and societal values. The results from this project will therefore create an urgently needed empirical database to guide management decisions toward sustainable and climate-friendly forestry.

Available positions within the project:

  • Postdoc 1 will explore rewetting effects on the greenhouse gas balance (incl. terrestrial and aquatic fluxes and soil microbial dynamics) of drained peatland forests (WP1) (supervisor: Järvi Järveoja)

        Apply by OCT 2 for the open Post-doc position: SLU_ad_rewetting-GHG

  • Postdoc 2 will evaluate the immediate effects of peatland rewetting on biodiversity, with focus on plants, pollinators and epigaeic insects (including beetles, spiders and ants) and possibly birds. The study will be focused on rewetted peatlands in northern Sweden and adjacent drained and natural peatland sites (WP2) (supervisor: Therese Löfroth)

  • Postdoc 3 will address social parameters, attitudes and preferences to understand how to promote peatland rewetting, especially emphasizing policy support, social acceptance, and impact on human well-being (WP3) (supervisor: Camilla Widmark)

Funding agencies:

Kempe Foundations, SLU Future Forests

Project members:

  • Järvi Järveoja (project coordinator; WP1)
  • Mats Öquist (WP1)
  • Hjalmar Laudon (WP1)
  • Therese Löfroth (WP2)
  • Camilla Widmark (WP3)
  • Elisabet Bohlin (WP3)

For more information contact:

  • Järvi Järveoja, Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management (Jarvi.Jarveoja@slu.se)
  • Assoc. Prof. Therese Löfroth, Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental studies (Therese.Lofroth@slu.se)
  • Assoc. Prof. Camilla Widmark, Dept. of Forest Economics (Camilla.Widmark@slu.se)