LIFE Peat Pals

Natuurmonumenten and their role in the Peat Pals for LIFE project


Natuurmonumenten is the Dutch Society for Nature Conservation, founded in 1905. In the project Peat Pals for LIFE, Natuurmonumenten is operating as coordinating lead partner. In addition, Natuurmonumenten is the nature conservation manager of the Dutch project site Fochteloërveen, one of the project sites central to Peat Pals for LIFE. The N2000 area Fochteloërveen is a Dutch peat bog area on the border of the northern provinces Drenthe and Fryslân. In the Netherlands the quality of peatland habitats, especially of active raised bog, degraded severely during the last decades due to peat extraction, drainage and exploitation of surrounding agricultural fields. Fochteloërveen used to be part of a larger peatbog, the Smildigervenen, which covered an area of 25,000 ha (Spek, 2004). Large parts of the former peatbog are now in agricultural use. The rest of the Fochteloërveen is nowadays a peatbog landscape of almost 4,000 ha of which 3,171 ha are managed by Natuurmonumenten.  


Project in the Fochteloërveen


The project area in the central compartment of the Fochteloërveen is an open landscape with a recovering raised peatbog, surrounded by forested areas and some natural grasslands. Due to the exceptional abiotic conditions in the Fochteloërveen some endangered habitats occur. Among them, the most important are 0.38 ha of active raised bogs and 1,488 ha of degraded raised bogs still capable of natural regeneration.  

In the central compartment of the Fochteloërveen the project will mainly focus on the restoration and extension of active raised bogs at the expense of degraded raised bogs and quality improvement of degraded raised bogs. Fochteloërveen has good possibilities for restoration of active raised bogs. This was one of the most important reasons for the designation as a Natura 2000 site. The high water quality in the Fochteloërveen forms an excellent base for peat bog restoration. Since the Fochteloërveen is an ombrotrophic peat bog – solely fed by rain water – the water quality is characterized by very low levels of nutrients and minerals and a high acidity. These are favourable conditions for the desired peat bog vegetation.  




The objectives and accompanying actions central to the Fochteloërveen site for Peat Pals for LIFE include: 

  • To improve the conservation status in order to attain a favourable status of habitats by restoring the hydrological (compartment) system in the Fochteloërveen central compartment. This will lead to an increase in size and quality of the priority habitat active raised bogs and an increase of the quality of the habitat degraded raised bogs still capable of natural regeneration (in total 260 ha). 
  • To create a robust series of dams (9,7 km) in the project area which keeps the hydrological situation save for the coming centuries and which will give the active raised bog a chance to develop into a resilient ecosystem. 
  • To create an optimal and sustainable habitat for species like the Large Heath, Yellow-spotted Whiteface, Northern Emerald, Bog Hawker, Crescent Bluet, Whinchat and Common Crane. 
  • To create conditions for reduction in CO2 emissions during the project period and, on the long term, CO2 sequestration, by increasing or reinstating peat growth and the reduction of peat decay. 
  • To increase, in the long-term, the water retention of the Fochteloërveen central compartment by creating a well-functioning active raised bog (acrotelm) which will buffer periods of peak precipitation in winter and longer dry periods in summer. The hydrological impact during and after the project period will be monitored. 
  • Increasing the socio-economic potential and public awareness strengthening existing partnerships and involving stakeholders in peatland restoration activities (practitioners, conservationists, local and regional authorities, farmers and other landowners). 


Visit here the project website in dutch language.