Take a walk in the Saxon forest… and discover forest soil test experiments!

In the Eisenstraßenmoor in Saxony, Germany, forest visitors now have access to information about peatlands and can discover one of the  HoliSoils test sites. “The Eisenstraßenmoor used to be a drained bog. This means that centuries ago, the foresters simply drained the water and directed it away from the bog to make the area suitable for tree growth and timber production”, says Clemens Weiser, head of the local forest enterprise. “This deteriorated the condition of the bog, causing the entire peat body to decay. As a result, significant CO2 emissions occurred due to the dryness, similar to how a compost pile at home decomposes.” Clemens and HoliSoils partner Cornelius Oertel and his team from The Thünen Institute for Forest Ecosystems want to reverse this process as part of their activities in the project.

Peatlands are an important carbon storage. Despite covering only 3% of the land area, they store twice as much carbon. Aiming at retaining water in the bog and encouraging its growth, the project team reconnected the catchment area, allowing water to flow back into the bog. They also closed all the ditches that were dug by foresters in the past, using proper peat plugs, to ensure the water stays in the bog. “Here, we want to measure CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions around the clock using automated chamber systems”, emphasises Cornelius Oertel.

The 5-meter-high measuring towers record greenhouse gas fluxes from the peatland (photo: Cornelius Oertel)

Field experiments at HoliSoils test sites are investigating the effects of soil and forest management and natural disturbances on soil processes, resilience and climate change mitigation potential. The Eisenstraßenmoor site, managed by HoliSoils partner Thünen Institute, is focussing on long term GHG measurements during and after the process of rewetting, short- and long-term changes of GHG emissions, and how are tree stands influenced by rewetting, among other studies.

In case you speak German and want to find out more, please watch this video: Informationen zum Moor für Waldbesucher – YouTube

This article was originally written by Cornelius Oertel (Thuenen Institute of Forest Ecosystems) and published on the EFI Resilience Blog.