Peatlands in the EU Regulatory Environment

Case Study from the New Member States (Poland/Estonia)


Peatland conservation and management in Europe is influenced by regulations and programmes of the European Union (EU) in the field of environment, agriculture and infrastructure. A comprehensive analysis of the pan-European legal situation is missing so far. In practice, the recent conservation efforts across the European Union turned out to be weak. In the Eastern member states the proportion of natural peatlands is higher than in Central Europe. 30 % of Estonia’s and 14 % of Poland’s peatlands are considered as still intact, in Germany less than 1 %.


In the context of this project a survey will be conducted, presenting positive and negative effects of the EU legislation on the status of peatlands and peat soils in the EU, in particular in relation to nature conservation and ecosystem services. Next to a general study of the EU-law situation, notable focus goes to the fen rich Member State Poland and Estonia which is characterized by Baltic raised bogs in context of two case studies which exemplarily model the local situations.


In the general part of the study, the EU legal framework for mire conservation and utilization in Europe is presented. Through the closely-examined, integrative analysis of the impact of the overall EU acquis communautaire, gaps in legislation, as well as competitive consequences are clearly identified. The nature conservation legislation, the architecture of EU agriculture and forestry, impacts of climate legislation for peatlands, schemes to promote renewable energy from biomass, the structural, regional and rural development policy, as well as the EU environmental law and the environmental damage law to their effect for peatlands is intensively investigated.


In the course of the entry of Poland and Estonia into the EU in 2004, the complete general EU framework became applicable at once which gives the possibility for a clear allocation of its impacts on mires. Therefore the development of peatland-rich regions with representative peatland areas is examined in the case studies. Peatlands within protected areas under the Natura 2000 directive and used areas outside of protected zones are included. Based on a detailed analysis of the situation on site and the involvement of all relevant stakeholders the concrete effect of EU legal system, funding mechanisms and their regional design on peatlands are presented.


The findings are used to draft policy options recommendations for dealing with peatlands at EU level and to discuss them with decision makers during a final workshop in Brussels. The overall project is coordinated by the Michael Succow Foundation, partner of the Greifswald Mire Centre.


GDOS is an agency subordinated to the Polish Ministry of the Environment and supports the project in implementation and with specific advisory based on their professional knowledge in Poland. Keskkonnaministeerium is the Estonian Ministry of the Environment and supports the project in implementation and with specific advisory based on their professional knowledge in Estonia. Silvestrum VoF is an independent consultancy to develop and implement environmentally responsible and climate-sensitive economic activities in the sector of forestry, soil and land use. Donor


This project is funded by the German Federal Environment Ministry’s Advisory Assistance Programme (AAP) for environmental protection in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia and other countries neighbouring the European Union. It was supervised by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA). The responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors.


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Project coordination:

Jan Peters, email: jan.peters(at)