At the online conference, "Moore II: Restoring Intact Ecosystems and Sustainable Use – Pathways to Success," held on 25 April 2023, Gregory Fuchs presented a policy paper stressing the need for freshwater ecosystem restoration. The event, organized to support the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, specifically focused on peatland restoration.
In the policy paper, Gregory Fuchs, Sandra Naumann, and Rebecca Noebel underscore the critical role of freshwater ecosystems in providing essential ecosystem services such as clean drinking water, food, raw materials, recreation, and energy generation. They also outline key threats to freshwater biodiversity posed by human activities, including pollution, water extraction, and habitat destruction, which are exacerbated by climate change.
The authors recommend integrating restoration measures firmly into NBSAPs and NDCs, fostering cross-sectoral cooperation, and allocating sufficient funding for restoration efforts. They also emphasize the significance of peatland restoration in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Closer collaboration and knowledge exchange between the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration and the UN Water Action Decade are encouraged to strengthen commitment to implementing SDGs 6 and 14, with the Ramsar Convention identified as a vital actor.
Although at the international level the Ramsar Convention and in the EU Water Framework Directive and important instruments, their success has been limited. Ambitious plans like the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the proposed Nature Restoration Law (NRL), and the new Global Biodiversity Framework aim to contribute to the restoration of freshwater ecosystems partly with concrete targets. In addition, the UN Water Action Decade's Freshwater Challenge sets a huge goal of restoring 300,000 km of rivers and 350 million hectares of wetlands by 2030.
The policy paper provides crucial insights into freshwater ecosystem and peatland restoration, urging swift, effective action to protect these ecosystems from further degradation. It serves as a valuable addition to the global discourse on ecosystem restoration.
Other conference speakers included Prof. Dr. Vera Luthardt of the Hochschule für Nachhaltige Entwicklung Eberswalde (HNEE) and Prof. Dr. Matthias Drösler, head of the Peatland Science Center at Hochschule Weihenstephan-Triesdorf. Luthardt highlighted the significance of preserving natural peatlands for flora and fauna, while Drösler emphasized the importance of water management in restoring degraded peatlands for climate neutrality. Both speakers discussed the potential of wetland revitalization for climate change mitigation.
The conference aimed to raise awareness of the urgent need for freshwater ecosystem and peatland restoration to mitigate climate change impacts and preserve biodiversity. Presentation slides from Fuchs, Luthardt, and Drösler are available on the conference website as a valuable resource for those interested in ecosystem restoration.