Wetlands help adapt to changes

Wetlands are like the blood vessels of the earth – without them, life on Earth would no longer be possible. A total of 40% of the world’s species live in wetlands, i.e. mires, beaches, riparian forests and flooded meadows. The value of wetlands also lies in the fact that they retain and purify water, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, and mitigate flooding and the effects of storms.

Drainage (e.g. trenching) significantly damages wetlands. Thus, in Western Europe, approximately 90% of wetlands have disappeared as of today, which in turn has led to eutrophication, extreme droughts, floods, and wildfires. Also, when wetlands are drained, carbon that was sequestered over a period of thousands of years is released back into the atmosphere, thus amplifying climate change. Due to drainage, the total area of Estonian mires has also decreased by nearly three times in the last century – with mires now only covering 7–8% of the land area.

To alleviate the situation, it is necessary to preserve and heal existing wetlands. In Estonia, and in many other parts of the world, mires are being restored, which is helping to re-establish a suitable habitat for a number of species and mitigate climate change.

How do we support the improvement of the condition of wetlands?
  • We are restoring mires – we have restored more than 7500 ha of mires in many parts of Estonia, and the plan is to restore thousands of additional hectares.
  • We study and inventory the mires.
  • We monitor the impact of various strategies and development activities (especially mines) on mires and stand for the preservation of mires.
  • We introduce schoolchildren, communities, and the public at large to mires and the importance of preserving and restoring them.
  • We are looking for and testing innovative solutions, such as wetland cultivation, for the use of drained wetlands and the creation of an artificial wetland.