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ALFAwetlands, a project for the study of wetlands and their role in mitigating climate change

Last June, the project Wetland restoration for the future, ALFAwetlands, was launched, dedicated to detailed knowledge of the distribution and characteristics of a wide range of European wetland systems. The aim is to evaluate ways to restore these ecosystems in order to improve their sustainability and maximize their role in mitigating climate change and conserving biodiversity. This is a project financed by the HORIZON EUROPE programme, led by the Natural Resources Institute Finland and in which a total of 15 centers are involved, including the University of Barcelona.

In this case, six members from the FORESTREAM Research Group and the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, under the coordination of Francesc Sabater, are part of the project. Their research will focus on three different ecological areas: (1) the complex of alluvial oak groves in the lower course of La Tordera; (2) the system of coastal lagoons of Les Madrigueres, in El Vendrell; and (3) some high mountain peatland systems in the central Pyrenees.
In all three areas, the balance of organic matter in the soil will be analyzed with sufficient spatial and temporal resolution, and significantly through the emission of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, NO2) and in relation to different situations of naturalization or of restoration. In parallel, other aspects related to biological diversity will also be studied, and mainly those related to species or habitats with conservation problems.

As regards high mountain peatland, the project will benefit from experiences begun a few years ago by IRBio members Josep M. Ninot, Aaron Pérez Haase and Eulàlia Pladevall, consisting of the exclusion of domestic livestock in some systems subject to overgrazing. Thus, based on the knowledge acquired about the response of the vegetation to livestock exclusion in the short term, the new project will extend this knowledge to the medium term, and will add the study of ecosystem functions.