CLIMPEAT – CLIMate change in PEATlands: Holocene record, recent trends and related impacts on biodiversity and sequestered carbon

Peatlands currently cover ~10% of Lithuania’s national territory. They have been designated unique habitats for the rarest species of plants and animals, with open raised bogs representing unique habitats of European importance. A total of 44% of this surface is colonized by woody vegetation. Under current conditions, tree growth in peatlands is mainly affected by groundwater fluctuations, with high water tables resulting in lower oxygen uptake and more limited nutrient assimilation by the root system. Woody vegetation dynamics in peatlands have been shown to be an integrator of past water table fluctuations and fossil tree stumps conserved in different peat layers may constitute dense archives of Holocene climate history.

The CLIMPEAT project addresses complex interactions between woody vegetation dynamics, groundwater and climate fluctuations for the last century and from a broad network of forested peatlands across Lithuania. Results of the in-situ monitoring and climate–tree growth relations will be used to (i) reconstruct climatic fluctuations for most of the Holocene based on remnants of subfossil trees found in distinct stump layers of raised bogs; (ii) to study the impact of such changes on peatland ecosystems; (iii) to explore the possible consequences of contemporary and possible future climate change on peatlands and on the associated release of sequestered carbon from these pristine environments. The CLIMPEAT project shall also contribute to the conservation and sustainable management of this resource through a better appraisal of impacts, and/or feedback loops between pedospheric, atmospheric, and anthropogenic activities.



Contractors: Lithuanian-Swiss Programme “Research and Development”; Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC), and State Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (seco)

Lithuanian project leader: Nature Research Centre, Institute of Geology and Geography, Vilnius (mettre un lien vers:
Project duration: 2012–2016

Contact: Markus Stoffel