The LIFE TREMEDAL project’s “Work Group on Peatlands” met in Lugo from the 17th to the 19th of November for a work session focusing on analysis of the different types of peatland found in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. The work group consists of scientists, technical officers and managers specialising in wetlands in the north of Spain and other countries in the European Union.
The types of peatlands found in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, the keys and issues involved in their identification and characterisation, management guidelines and potential conservation and restoration actions were discussed at the meeting. Local reference sites of different types of peatland in the mountains in the north of Lugo, in what is known as the Sierra do Xistral, were also visited. This area, which belongs to the Natura 2000 network, is home to the finest examples of blanket bogs found in continental Europe and is both unique and extremely important in terms of biodiversity conservation. The Natura 2000 network, the European network of nature protection areas, helps protect peatland habitats, covering as it does a good part of all the peatlands found in Europe.
The importance of peatlands
Peatlands are formed in waterlogged areas with little oxygen, in which organic material finds it hard to decompose and builds up in large quantities, forming peat. Not only are these habitats of great importance due to the many services they offer humankind, such as regulating the climate, fixing carbon and protecting against flooding, but also because they are home to extremely rare, endangered animal and plant species.
Another relevant feature of peatlands is the major role they play in paleoecological studies (the reconstruction of ecosystems over history) because peatlands are like open history books which reveal keys with which to analyse climate change and the disturbance of and impacts on the biosphere caused by humankind.