Seas, forests and moors are extremely important for climate protection and for people because they store carbon. The federal government now wants to strengthen the ecosystems with a program worth billions.
On Wednesday, the federal cabinet decided on a four-billion dollar action program for natural climate protection. The project had agreed the traffic light in their coalition agreement. In ten fields of action, the action program provides for the protection and strengthening of ecosystems such as seas, forests and moors. Because these bind carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it for the long term. They also act as a buffer in the event of extreme weather events caused by climate change: A water balance that “keeps the water in the landscape is, for example, the prerequisite for the rewetting of moors and other wetlands,” says the paper.
At the same time, it prevents droughts and creates so-called retention areas. These are areas that are flooded during high water and give the rivers the necessary space to overflow. They serve as protection against local flooding after heavy rain events, which are expected to occur more frequently and more severely in the future.
“This is definitely a paradigm shift that we now have in nature conservation in Germany, because for the first time at federal level there is such a serious investment in renaturation and nature conservation,” said Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) after the cabinet. “I think that old forests, lively rivers or even cool cities are what our citizens want in a hot summer,” she said. The program is a good step towards preserving or restoring ecosystems where they no longer exist.
According to the Ministry of the Environment, some measures should be implemented as soon as possible. This includes bringing natural climate protection into the communities. In concrete terms, this means that areas should be used in municipal projects in such a way that they promote climate protection and biological diversity.
In addition, a competence center for natural climate protection is to be set up. There, owners of land should receive information on funding opportunities in their region.
“Long-term task for decades”
The rewetting of moors, on the other hand, is a long-term task for decades, according to the Ministry of the Environment. In Germany alone, 53 million tons of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere every year because drained peat soils cannot fulfill their functions. Intact peat soils, on the other hand, can bind carbon in the peat over the long term.
A special focus is also on the forest as a sink of greenhouse gases. German forests are supposed to permanently absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but increasing drought and extreme weather events caused by the climate crisis are damaging the forest. According to the paper, only 36 percent of the forest area in Germany was close to nature after a final check. Therefore, from 2023 to 2030, 10,000 hectares of forest are to be newly created every year. In addition, coniferous plantations would have to be developed into near-natural mixed forests.
Farmers’ association concerned about closure of agricultural land
The German Farmers’ Association expressed concern that the action program would become a “set-aside program for agricultural land”. It does not offer the companies “apart from the use of moors any meaningful measures or only those whose climate value is questionable,” said Farmer President Joachim Rukwied of the German Press Agency. “The action program must also offer us farmers business models for natural climate protection. This is the only way for agriculture to combine competitiveness and climate protection.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.