Project

Back to overview

Wetland history Switzerland (WEHIS)

Applicant Bürgi Matthias
Number 121714
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Swiss Federal Research Inst. WSL Direktion
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research - WSL
Main discipline Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences
Start/End 01.07.2009 - 30.06.2010
Approved amount 105'386.00
Show all

Keywords (12)

land cover change; historical ecology; wetlands; carbon pool; carbon pools; landscape history; land use change; peat; drainage; river corrections; Switzerland; carbon accounting

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
LeadWetlands play an important role in the global carbon cycle as one of the main terrestrial carbon pools. We reconstructed spatial development of wetlands in Switzerland since 1700 and analyzed major processes driving their widespread elimination.BackgroundWetlands are an important pool for soil organic carbon and the change in extent and quality of wetlands leaves deep imprints on the carbon budget. Information on the long-term history of wetlands is therefore highly relevant for assessing long-term changes in (e.g. national) C pools. Information on the historical distribution and extent of wetlands is a crucial element for evaluating the potential for wetland restoration. Restoring wetlands is gaining increasing attention in the search for additional C sinks, as restored and growing wetlands sequester C for very long times. In Switzerland however, unlike in other parts of the world, the history of wetlands so far has not been studied consistently. Aim We intended to reconstruct the history of wetlands in Switzerland since 1700. The approach encompasses spatially explicit analysis of the development of wetlands based on historical sources (maps, statistical data, secondary literature), including the modeling of the potential maximal extent, the analyses of the major processes affecting wetlands, and a synthesis in which we asses the development of the C pool in wetlands.Relevance/Significance Information on the long-term history of wetlands is highly relevant for assessing long-term changes in (e.g. national) C pools. Information on the historical distribution and extent of wetlands will further be a crucial element for evaluating the potential for wetland restoration. Restoring wetlands is gaining increasing attention in the search for additional C sinks, as restored and growing wetlands sequester C for very long times.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
143242 Forest dynamics in Switzerland (FORDYNCH) - pattern, driving forces and ecological implications 01.07.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Wetlands are an important pool for soil organic carbon (SOC) and consequently, the change in extent and quality of wetlands leaves deep imprints on the carbon (C) budget. Information on the long-term history of wetlands is therefore highly relevant for assessing long-term changes in (e.g. national) C pools. Information on the historical distribution and extent of wetlands will further be a crucial element for evaluating the potential for wetland restoration. Restoring wet-lands is gaining increasing attention in the search for additional C sinks, as restored and grow-ing wetlands sequester C for very long times.In the proposed project, we intend to reconstruct the history of wetlands in Switzerland since 1700. The approach will encompass spatially explicit analysis of the development of wetlands (incl. modeling the potential maximal extent), the analyses of the major processes affecting wet-lands, and a synthesis in which the first two parts will be combined to asses the development of the C pool in wetlands. Our main data sources will be secondary literature, historical statistical data, and historical maps. We will combine historical maps covering whole Switzerland for the time from 1850 to 2000 with regional case studies selected based on excellent source availability for 1700 to 1800. The regional case studies will be supplemented by information on the major processes affecting the extent of wetlands from 1700 to 1800, such as river corrections and early drainage projects. Based on these two approaches we will build wetland maps for 1700, 1750, and 1800. The spatially explicit reconstruction will result in a series of maps in time steps of 50 years for the period 1700 to 2000. As the different types of wetlands differ in C content, we will then determine the approximate proportion of the different types of wet-lands for every period. Special weight will be put on mires, incl. bogs and fens. We will further use predictive modeling to assess the potential area cov-ered by wetlands, based on this map series. In a synthesizing step, we want to determine the changes of the C pool in the remaining Swiss wetlands since 1700. We will do this by combining the results of the spatial reconstruction, incl. the proportion of the different wetland types, with data on the average C density of the different wetland types, and information on the history of peat extraction, a major process af-fecting the C pool of the remaining wetlands.To reconstruct the wetland history of Switzerland and the related C pool, historical ecology, modelling, and knowledge on C dynamics has to be combined. Therefore, we consider the ex-pertise of the three applicants to be an excellent combination for an efficient and effective pro-ject. We propose to conduct the project with a postdoctoral researcher, as knowledge in quanti-tative historical ecology in combination with project management skills will be necessary to accomplish the proposed project successfully.
-