Sustainable restoration and conservation of terrestrial wetlands

REWET – REstoration of WETlands to minimise emissions and maximise carbon uptake.
A strategy for long-term climate mitigation. Funded by the European Union.

Freshwater wetlands, floodplains and peatlands have been degraded for several centuries across Europe and continue to be degraded, with the main drivers being large-scale drainage for agriculture, forestry, mining of peat and other materials. Wetlands, in particular peatlands, contain huge amounts of carbon and their disruption results in high GHG emissions being released into the atmosphere.

Moreover, climate warming and changes in rainfall patterns lead to the drainage of wetlands, contributing to GHG emissions and the occurrence of natural disasters. Hence, the conservation, restoration and proper management of these ecosystems will significantly reduce current GHG emissions and has enormous potential for net carbon sequestration. Those practices are essential to meet EU and global targets on climate, nature, and water. For effective climate change mitigation, it is essential that wetlands’ carbon dynamics are better understood, their full sequestration potential mapped, and the most effective management and restoration measures identified and fostered.

Impact of the REWET project

In line with the European Green Deal objectives, the research and innovation activities of the project will provide a thorough understanding of the complexity inherent to the management, conservation, and restoration of wetland ecosystems. REWET will analyse and identify the best restoration strategies to maximise carbon storage capacity and reduce GHG emission of wetlands, considering their climate mitigation service.

REWET targets

The project will provide measurable contributions to achieve the following targets:

  • Improve knowledge on the status of EU wetlands: location, condition, type of management and pressures (including climate change) and restoration potential, to understand their capacity as carbon sinks or GHG sources for climate mitigation.
  • Improve assessment of the added value of wetland, peatland and floodplain restoration approaches under different scenarios.
  • Monitor their benefits and trade-offs in terms of GHG emissions, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
  • Analyse the degree to which these approaches related to wetlands are affected by different scenarios of climate change.
  • Contribute to the evidence on ecosystem services provided by restored wetlands and their long-term management as an investment with significant societal benefits.

The Open Labs

In order to contribute more effectively to the EU reference framework on wetlands and generate higher impacts across Europe, the study cases have been selected to cover a range of local conditions and geographic characteristics based on the following criteria: (1) climatic and geographic conditions; (2) type of wetland; (3) vulnerability to natural disasters; (4) social, cultural contexts, vulnerability and (5) governance structures.
Furthermore, their excellence in terms of implemented restoration activities or envisaged restoration activities has been considered through the following sub-criteria: (1) the degree of restoration and conservation they currently have, (2) the know-how and expertise they offer in terms of wetlands restoration and monitoring of GHG, biodiversity and ecosystem services and (3) innovation, upscaling and mainstreaming potential.

Gender approach

In REWET, social aspects are extremely important: social barriers can affect the replication of the results. Climate change affects differently on gender, age, location, and economic status and the project wants to explore this effect to determine the positive impact of REWET with the potential climate mitigation provided by the Open Labs and the replication plan.

Therefore, REWET includes the gender dimension in all steps of the project and along three main dimensions:

  • The work within the project consortium and its management structures.
  • Dealing with Gender aspects in REWET Open Labs: gender can be affected differently by climate change. Restoration of wetlands to act as carbon sinks mitigate climate change, thus benefiting the population and affecting gender differences as well. In REWET, we will implement a monitoring process setting up individuals as observation units (social and economic monitor) including different activities that will allow specific tracking of the differential impact of gender.
  • Gender Dimension in REWET at large: environmental legislation, policies and programs will be analysed within gender analysis to avoid inequalities with different effects on women and men, such as people of different income levels, ages, and geographic locations.

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