Lecture Paludiculture – ecological restoration and wet agriculture (Montreal)

Industrialization was accompanied by draining of mires for agricultural land reclamation. For example, about 98% of (1,4 million hectares of) mires in Germany are modified, and now make up 7,3% of the (drained) land used for mostly intensive agriculture. At the same time, drained mires are a very potent source of greenhouse gas emissions (about 4% of total emissions in Germany and 37% of agricultural emissions), reduce habitats and biodiversity as well as water retention and water quality capacity. Accordingly, nature conservation advocates demand rewetting mires and wetlands, and such restoration has also already been implemented (starting roughly in the 90s). But as a result, farmers lose their land, a political-economic problem, especially in poor, agricultural regions of North-East Germany. In this context, the idea of paludiculture is to combine rewetting of land with a new ‘wet’ agriculture use and associated value chains for farmers. However, even with this value proposition, paludiculture is contested and subject to interest struggles over land use. The lecture introduces mire and wetland restorations and paludiculture. Following a general introduction, it will present a transdisciplinary case of a restoration and paludiculture project currently in process: What is the method, how are stakeholders such as farmers included, and how are such projects situated in large debates of social-ecological transformation and environmental philosophy?