Creating A New Approach to Peatland Ecosystems

CANAPE activities will deliver peatland restoration; develop new peatland products and bring economic benefits. Our target audience will be engaged with well managed peatlands across the North Sea Region.

Total budget received from North Sea Region 2014 - 2020

€ 2.772.554 million of ERDF

(Total project budget  €5.545.105)



For centuries humans have used peat as a fuel and for agriculture which released CO2 and greenhouse gases. Europe peatlands are faced with an increased threat of flooding due to rising groundwater, while other regions are facing drought and a scarcity of drinking water. To address these issues, in the North Sea Region, we are restoring bogs, fens and peatland lakes, because they store carbon and they can produce an alternative economy for landowners. This alternative swamp agriculture is called ‘paludiculture’, which is sustainable and protects the peat soils. The bogs, mires and lakes can also assist in storing excessive water from rain and protect against flooding with the mosses functioning as a sponge. 

Nine geographical sites have been identified where international cooperation will be particularly beneficial. Fourteen partner organisations will be testing innovative ways of working and developing four new products from peatland.

We will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from peatland by preventing the excessive use and drainage of ground and surface water which is leading to changes in vegetation composition and the balance between CO2 uptake and release. Damaged peatland is less able to retain water, therefore more susceptible to erosion from heavy rainfall or wind. Lowland peatland ecosystems are particularly vulnerable as they are often found within intensely managed landscapes, for example directly adjacent to farmland, which is typical of low-lying parts of the North Sea Region.

Examples of project activity

The CANAPE project will promote & demonstrate the possibilities of using lowland peatlands for sustainable farming and management that will bring economic benefits to local communities and the region as a whole. For example,

  • by preventing peat subsidence that leads to flooding of surrounding land making it unsuitable for agricultural use by introducing new, sustainable paludiculture products from reed and moss
  • by protecting the recreational value of these landscapes for the benefit of rural economies for example by rebuilding reedswamp in lakes across the NSR that can naturally filter water and prevent the build-up of toxic algae.

Engaging stakeholders

Many of the causes of peatland degradation originate outside protected sites. These are difficult to address through licensing or regulation. It is vital to work with farmers and landowners to promote sustainable land use in rural areas. Changing farming traditions can take a long time and legislation is typically implemented from the top down, which can mean that landowners do not always engage with schemes for example often low uptake of agri-environment schemes. The challenge is to motivate relevant stakeholders such as farmers, anglers, young people and NGOs to work together to achieve more sustainable land use.

How the Project will achieve its aims

The CANAPE transnational partnership will use the collective knowledge and experiences of partners to create new solutions to capture carbon, store water and create economic markets in lowland peatlands.

CANAPE will hold technical workshops involving local, national and international stakeholders to improve the understanding of issues in each country. Workshops will also identify and manage the development of new services which build resilient soil and water resources management. Lake innovative solutions will be investigated by running them through ‘PC Lake’ model. We will be assessing solutions against carbon and water capture and economic growth outputs.undefined