Carbon Connects: A European project on changing traditional high GHG emitting peatland management practices to sustainable low carbon alternatives

Prof. dr. Emiel Elferink1, Prof. dr. Toine Smits1

1Van Hall Larenstein, Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Agriculture is mostly ignored when countering climate change, even though it causes one third of global C02 emissions (UN-Env). 3% of the world’s land surface is covered by Peatlands, which are large concentrations of organic matter having accumulated over centuries. They store 2x as much carbon as all of Earth’s standing forests. Europe contains 265,000 km2 of various peatland types and if dried out, will go from being a carbon sink to a massive, unstoppable carbon emitter.  In the project Carbon Connects (CConnnects) an European consortium will reduce C02 emissions by 50% in agricultural peatlands where traditional practices have unnecessary high emissions (20-40ton C02/ha/y). The land practices drain and strip peatland for energy use, crop production, and animal husbandry.  CConnnects will promote alternative practices of wet agriculture land use that reduces carbon by raising water levels, introducing new crops (eg. Cattail, reed), and isolating carbon in land outputs (biomass, building material).  CConnnects develops financially viable business models by developing value chains & use blue and C-credit schemes to enable widespread implementation and scaling-up without public subsidies. CConnnects  has 8 pilots of 3-10ha in NL, FR, BE, UK, IE, jointly representing all peatland types in NWE. Solutions are scalable in NWE to 4,500,000ha peatlands (Larger than NL).  CConnnects has the potential to reduce 90-180M ton emissions in NWE, equivalent to removing 40-80 million cars.  CConnnects’ transnational Farmer-2-Farmer learning programme allows land users to directly share and scale experiences, while actively targeting new adopters with a transnational toolbox of state of art land use and farming practices.  Partners of CConnects are from universities, government, business, research and landowner groups.  We will present the CConnect-project and its first results.


Dr. Emiel Elferink is an applied research professor ‘Sustainable Soil Management’ at the applied university Van Hall Larenstein in Leeuwarden (NL). He leads a research group that focuses on the relation between agriculture management, biobased economy and healthy soila. Especially soil biology, soil ecology and soil organic matter in relation to climate change are leading research topics. The goal is to come to practical solutions for farmers, companies and landowners that contribute to a more sustainable soil management. Furthermore he is responsible for the knowledge centre and consortium on healthy soils

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