Poorly managed wetlands add dramatically to Carbon emissions – the need for restoration of drained and eroded wetlands in the Faroe Islands
Inviting the meetings’ industry to learn more about the ecological systems depending on Water and how much the topics reach into the work of meeting planners and destination marketing organizations, we met with Kolbrún í Haraldsstovu, Head of Department of Botany at the Faroe Islands National Museum, to talk about her work.
Kolbrún is an engaged campaigner for biosphere research in the Faroe Islands as there is not much knowledge about the local and specific Faroese biosphere. She is currently one of the few here that deals with vegetation and soil research. Her major goal is to work with local farmers to restore land that was cultivated for grass production for sheep and as a result either eroded or drained. And, to have the possibility to study both effects of erosion and the restoration of wetlands to be able to provide sound data, which are presently missing.
Ecological restoration of wetlands is an extremely important element in climate mitigation, with not much awareness yet about the strong effects on emission regulations. Wetlands hold large amounts of carbon, and the fate of existing wetlands is a factor in predicting carbon emissions. The loss of an existing wetland means not only the loss of that carbon sink, but also that the carbon stored in that wetland will be released. Additionally, to industry and traffic.
Wetlands are some of the largest stores of carbon on the planet. We all need a new way to look at landscapes and how to interpret them better. We are not just talking about saving wetlands and biospheres—we’re talking about restoration to tackling climate change.
Healthy – undrained – wetlands vs. Unhealthy – drained – wetlands
Wetlands store more carbon than any other ecosystem, with peatlands alone storing twice as much as all the world’s forests, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Inland wetland ecosystems, also absorb excess water and help prevent floods and drought, widely seen as critical to helping communities adapt to a changing climate.
All efforts to reduce CO2 emissions worldwide are useless if we continue to drain wetlands for cattle grazing and agricultural industry use.
Kobrún’s organization is part of a program with 8 pilot projects in 7 Nordic Countries presently run by the Nordic Council of Ministries. She says:
“We at the Faroe Islands National Museum are very excited to be part of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ program and vision to help make the Nordic region the most sustainable region in the world by 2030 “
In this project video, you see in the Faroe Islands’ part of the program the damage caused by one of the landslides occurring now more frequently due to the erosion of soil. The landslides lose precious biodiversity (the soil) and whole habitats into the sea.
In the landslide area on Kalsoy covered in the project of the Nordic Council of Ministries, restoration measures are being developed and sheep have been removed over a 10-year period, while the restoration takes place.
“Also on Kalsoy, we have another area close to the landslide project, that has been fenced off and is the first unofficial nature reserve where sheep can’t access.”
A third project which seeks funding, is an area close to Tórshavn, that will be turned into a nature reserve protected area where sheep are removed and native vegetation will be planted. The development of the restoration efforts will be observed and studied, to be able to deliver data and measurements.
“It will take 5-10 years minimum to see results from renovation and restoration of drained wetlands, replanting and recovery of soil.” Kolbrun explains.
Small streets in that area will make the process accessible to tourists and visitors to learn about the reasons, the necessary efforts and the effects to recover the nature, and to experience the rare “undisturbed” nature close up.
Drained wetlands are not only lost as capture areas for carbon emissions, but also, they release huge emissions that were stored in the system – drainage thus adds dramatically to climate crisis. Wetlands are 3 x more effective in carbon storage than forests, depending on their type and location.
Wetlands thus are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world – drainage, erosion, and landslides turn biospheres into deserts. So far, there is only a local law from 1970, which is no longer functional and does not protect the environment here in the Faroe Islands. As a result, no environmental impact measurements and assessments exist for new projects, which are an urgent necessity for further scientific research.
Visit Faroe Islands Meetings wants to create a track for conference legacy and visitor contribution to support the restoration of drained and eroded wetlands in the Faroe Islands, to protect the dramatic and unique landscape for the future. If you as a meeting planner bring a conference here, please contact Annleyg Lamhauge of Visit Faroe Islands Meetings to discuss how you can help.