PEATnews Quarterly

Summer 2021

Welcome to PEATnews!

We are pleased to present a quarterly newsletter for Peat ECR scientists to stay up to date on events, publications, opportunities and more! If you would like to contribute an event or an article such as a research spotlight to this newsletter, please get in touch:

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PeatECR Events

We are taking a little summer break but looking forward to offering our events again in September:

Every Tuesday (12:00-14:30 EDT) and Wednesday (9:30-12:00 EDT) - Email us for a link!

#PeatTalks: A Global Lab Meeting
Last Thursday of month (11:00 EDT)
Registration Link »

We are looking for presenters for upcoming #PeatTalks!
Please reach out to us to present your research outline, preliminary results or anything you're looking for feedback on from the PeatECR community. 


Our first grantees were selected earlier this summer; congratulations to Wahaj Habib, Maria Sanchez, Alexis Stansfield and Annuri Rossita who will be using their micro-grants for travel, equipment, course and related expenses. We are so pleased to support you in these endeavors.

Did you miss out on the first two rounds of #PeatNeeds? The next application deadline is August 27th!
Link »

External Events

International Boreal Forest Research Association Conference
August 16th to 20th
Link »

Eurosoil 2021
August 23rd to 27th
Link »

Catchment Science Summer School
August 29th to September 3rd, Online 
Link »

IUCN World Conservation Congress
September 3rd to 11th
Link »

IUCN UK Peatland Programme Conference 2021
September 13th to 16th 
Link »

Ireland's National Peatland Gathering
October 7th to 9th
Link »

Sustainable Peatlands: A Win For All
October 13th to 15th
Link »

UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties 26
November 1st to 12th
Link to the Peatlands Pavillion »

German Peat and Humus Day
November 4th 
Link »

American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
December 13th to 17th
Link »

RE-PEAT Events
UK Anthology Series: Monthly
Link »

Researcher Spotlight: Eva Ntara

Current Role: Fire Management, Peatlands and Climate Change Consultant, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 

Research Area: Peatlands in Kenya 
1) Human-induced fires and their effect on carbon emissions at Yala swamp; and
2) Restoring nature through art at Ondiri swamp.

Eva was born and raised in Nakuru, Kenya near the Lake Nakuru National Park, a wildlife haven and a recognized Ramsar site. Growing up in this region, she was naturally drawn to protect her beautiful surroundings. While doing her undergraduate study in Nairobi, she had the opportunity to do an internship in Freising, Germany during the summer of 2016 with the peatland research team at Hochschule Weihenstephan Triesdorf (HSWT). It was during these fieldwork campaigns that her interest for peatlands was sparked, as she learnt about their role in climate change mitigation. She was curious to learn more about these enigmatic ecosystems and particularly about their status and distribution in East Africa. Her Bachelor and Master theses focused on understanding the impact of human activities on carbon content and vegetation distribution on two peatlands in Kenya - Ondiri and Yala swamps. It was this fieldwork experience that enabled her to see first-hand how local communities interacted directly with the peatlands and this inspired her to work in the research-policy interface of peatland management.

Eva's favourite field memory:
"I did a field campaign at Yala swamp, Kenya during the fire season in 2019. Yala swamp is the largest swamp in Kenya at 17,500 ha and is located in both Busia and Siaya counties. With the aid of two field assistants and my father, we collected soil and plant samples from the dominion farms in Siaya, which are characterized by drained mineral soils due to intensive agriculture use. We needed to collect more samples from an undisturbed part of the swamp located in Busia county, for data comparison. Once in Busia, we walked towards the swamp as a narrow bridge prevented any vehicles or motorcycles from venturing further inland. The roads became narrower and so did the local people’s gaze. One of the field assistants was a resident and explained to the locals that we meant no harm - we were scientists just collecting soil and plant samples. With that information, the residents let us pass through peacefully. We came to a marshy area and in order for us to proceed further into the undisturbed area, we had to onboard a makeshift wooden boat, operated by a local fisherman and his wife. As we ventured further interior, we were met by an unexpected sight! Before us were huge flames of fires approaching us nearby at a steady pace. It was allegedly started by another fisherman who wanted to clear the papyrus vegetation to create new fishing routes. In a span of seconds, our boat operator turned the boat in a skillful display and paddled us to safety with a long wooden stick. Every time, I think about this memory, I am filled with a mix of fascination, anxiety, and wonder. 
* We were still able to collect enough samples for analysis in the undisturbed swamp area."

Anything else would you like to share with the PeatECR community: 
"Recently, I started a series of personal projects - Artsy Murals, that aim to restore nature through art in degraded peatlands/wetlands, forests and slum areas in Kenya. The first project was at Ondiri swamp where I mobilized 5 local mural artists to paint a rather neglected tunnel with a mural under the theme of environmental conversation. The mural (now the face of Ondiri) sparked conversations among community members and climate change circles in Nairobi. At the time of writing, due to the efforts done by Friends of Ondiri Wetland, a community-based organization and partners, the Ondiri swamp is on the final stages of being gazetted as a national wetland in Kenya."

Check out the projects on twitter!

Image of Ondiri swamp mural taken during the Kikuyu Art Festival, 21st February 2021 (Eva Ntara)

Peatland Data Initiatives

This quarter we are presenting a number of peatland databases from around the globe in an effort to connect our members to these vital resources. 

1. PeatDataHub
A network of scientists who aim to provide a global perspective on peatland processes by combining datasets from around the world as part of a database of monitoring sites. The scope of PeatDataHub is broad and will incorporate a wide range of peatland measurements, beginning with site metadata and water-table depth. Researchers can decide on the level of access to their datasets when they contribute to this database. Information that can currently be uploaded in a standardized format includes:

  • Water table data from individual wells within sites
  • Eyes on the Bog monitoring data
  • Photographs, including 360 images
  • Ancillary data (papers, maps, etc.)
  • Coming soon: rainfall data

2. Global Peatland Database
A project of the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG) located and maintained at the Greifswald Mire Centre. The GPD collates and integrates data on location, extent and drainage status of peatlands and organic soils worldwide and for 268 individual countries and regions. The database contains analogue and GIS maps, reports, observations, pictures, and is supported by the Peatland and Nature Conservation International Library PeNCIL. The GPD regularly produces integrative analyses including biennial worldwide overviews on peatland status and emissions and provides science-based, policy-relevant spatial information for: 
  • climate change mitigation and adaptation;
  • biodiversity conservation and restoration;
  • sustainable land use planning. 
3. International Soil Carbon Network
A science-based network that facilitates data sharing, assembles databases, identifies gaps in data coverage, and enables spatially explicit assessments of soil carbon in context of landscape, climate, land use, and biotic variables. Now in its third generation, the ISCN database includes data for over 430,000 individual soil layers from over 71,000 profiles worldwide. The data are presented by several mechanisms:
  • Third generation data are separated into profile- and layer-level data products, available for download only in Excel format. 
  • A map-based data access feature allows the user to specify a geographic extent and select variables to include in a customized data download.
Over the past 20 years, there have been several data synthesis activities initiated by the FLUXNET research community. The most recent FLUXNET dataset produced is the FLUXNET2015 Dataset, which includes over 1,500 site-years of data from 212 sites. Included in these data are eddy covariance flux data from several peatland sites.  Similarly, the FLUXNET-CH4 Community Product was released in 2020. Led by the Global Carbon Project in close partnership with AmeriFlux and EuroFlux, the synthesis activity resulted in a global database of eddy covariance (EC) methane flux measurements.

We have included these and 8 further databases on our webpage for our readers to review and provide feedback. Are you aware of other projects that aim to coordinate large peatland datasets from around the world? Let us know by email or @PeatlandECR on twitter!

News Stories

England launches Peatland Action Plan - IUCN Peatland Programme

Sales of peat compost to gardeners to be banned from 2024 - The Guardian

Intense boreal forest fires may change tree species, and lead to more carbon uptake - CBC Quirks and Quarks

Five years after Fort McMurray fire, researchers warn of wildfire risk from peatlands  - Brighter World

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to develop virtual training to help remote First Nations communities remediate boreal forests - Tech Life Today

Luggala peatlands to undergo restoration to support carbon capture and biodiversity - Irish Times

Peatland restoration promises climate and biodiversity solutions - Green News

Wales’ first carbon-funded peatland restoration project is complete - IUCN Peatland Programme

How to fix the Waikato peatlands - New Zealand Geographic

Better peatland management could cut half a billion tons of carbon - AAAS

How Much Carbon Will Peatlands Lose as Permafrost Thaws? - Eos Science News by AGU

Climate warming to increase carbon loss in Canadian peatland by 103 per cent - ScienceDaily

Funding to restore Scotland’s iconic peatlands - Scottish Government

Global peatland dry-out could release 860 million tons of carbon dioxide per year - The Conversation

Researchers reveal complex ecosystem changes cause more greenhouse gases to be emitted from peatlands - Florida State University News

Northern Farms Are Releasing Massive Amounts of Carbon - Wired

Great Fen wet farming experiment awarded £8m in funding - BBC News

Local leaders in Indonesia make forest and peatland protection pledge - Mongabay News

Pact aims to curtail planet-warming emissions from carbon-rich peatlands - Forest News

Peru joins ITPC international initiative to conserve and restore peatlands - International Tropical Peatlands Centre

Bringing Back Bogs - Sierra Club


PhD position in sustainable peatland management by mapping, monitoring and modelling the carbon cycle - ETH Zurich
(Deadline August 16th)

Link »

Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme: Restoring English Peatlands
(Discovery Grant deadline Sept 1st)

Link »

Ireland Environmental Protection Agency Research Calls
Link »

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Peatland Disturbance and Restoration, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Link »

Remote Sensing Research Associate, Carleton University, Canada
Link »

3 PhD Opportunities examining forest restoration and recovery dynamics on disturbances in woodland caribou habitat, University of Alberta, Canada
Link »

Research Associate (Permafrost Hydrology), Wilfred Laurier University, Ontario, Canada
Link »

Research Associate (Community Engagement and Climate Change Adaptation), Wilfred Laurier University, Ontario, Canada
Link »

Robert Gilbert Postdoctoral Fellowship on Changing Habitat Selection of Caribou or Subarctic Vegetation Dynamics, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada
Link »

Multiple PhD positions with Baltic TRANSCOAST in Biology, Ecology, Geochemistry, Biogeochemistry, Hydro(geo)logy, and Engineering, University of Rostock and Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research (IOW), Germany
Link »

Postdoctoral Research Associate - Root Dynamics and Ecosystem Processes with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, USA
Link »

Peat Project Officer and Assistants, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Skipton, UK
Link »

British Ecological Society Grants
Link »

Northern Ireland Peatland Strategy Consultation
Link »

University of Saskatchewan Online Ecohydrology Course, Jan to April 2022
Link »

Indigenous Canada Online Course, University of Alberta
Link »

More Citizen Science Opportunities: Bryomonitoring Canada
Link »

Recent Publications

Drever, CR et al. (inc. Davidson, SJ) (2021) Natural Climate Solutions for Canada. Science Advances, Vol. 7, no. 23, eabd6034 doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abd6034

Glenk, K, Faccioli, M, Martin-Ortega, J, Schulze, C, Potts J (2021). The opportunity cost of delaying peatland climate action: Peatland restoration and resilience to climate change. Global Environmental Change 70, 102323.

Irvine, S, Davidson, SJ, Price, JS, Strack, M (2021) Dissolved organic carbon production and transport within a constructed fen watershed in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, Alberta, Canada. Journal of Hydrology, 126493 

Beaulne, J, Garneau, M, Magnan, J, Boucher, É (2021) Peat deposits store more carbon than trees in forested peatlands of the boreal biome. Scientific Reports 11: 2657,

Davidson, SJ, Smith, M, Prystupa, E, Murray, K, Nwaishi, FC, Petrone, RM, Strack, M (2021) High sulfate concentrations maintain low methane emissions at a constructed fen over the first seven years of ecosystem development. Science of The Total Environment, 148014,

Wilkinson, S, Furukawa, AK, Wotton, BM, Waddington, JM (2021) Mapping smouldering fire potential in boreal peatlands and assessing interactions with the wildland-human interface in Alberta, Canada. International Journal of Wildland Fire.

Bonus: A Peat Podcast! PeatECR's own Scott Davidson was recently interviewed by Rachel Villani in the Storytellers of STEMM Podcast. Listen here.

Have a publication, podcast or article you would like to have featured on our webpage and newsletter?
Email us!

Just for fun: Calendar Photo Contest

We are working on a 2022 #PeatCalendar! We would love to feature photos of peatlands and peatland research from across the globe for this publication, so we need your help! Tweet or email us your best peatland photos for consideration. The top entry will receive the coveted spot of calendar cover page, while the top three entries will receive a free copy of the calendar!

Photo courtesy of Iuliia Burdun   
Copyright © PeatECR 2021, All rights reserved.

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Peat ECR Action Team · 9612 148 St NW · Edmonton, AB T5N 3E5 · Canada

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