Peatlands are sprinkled especially along the periphery of the State of Berlin at 76 different locations. At more than 740 hectares, they account for less than one percent of the whole area. Their contribution to the ecosystems and us humans, however, is immense compared to those of other soils.
Peatlands perform many an important function: they serve as habitats for rare animals and plants as well as organisms in the soil. They store carbon in quantities that impact upon the climate. The capacity of peatlands to buffer pollutants is extraordinary; they thus protect the groundwater. During floods, peatlands absorb excess water, just like a sponge. Their damp surfaces facilitate evaporation, creating a cooling effect, especially during persistent heatwaves. They are invaluable to the urban microclimate. Furthermore, peatlands are excellent at preserving pollen, plants and animals as well as cultural relics.
Berlin’s 2012 Biodiversity Strategy stipulates that special efforts must be made to protect peatlands. From 2011 to 2015, the Humboldt University of Berlin therefore developed a soil-scientific map focussing on peatlands, the first of its kind, which was added to the Environmental Atlas. Three main types of peatlands are distinguished in Berlin: natural peatlands (82 percent), anthropogenically buried peatlands (15 percent) and flooded, subhydric soils (3 percent). The largest contiguous peatland area is located in the Gosener Wiesen in Treptow-Köpenick.
Another map linked to the topic illustrates the amount of organic carbon stored in the peatlands. In this regard, it is noteworthy that although the investigated peatlands cover only a small area, they contribute one fifth of the organic carbon stored in Berlin’s soils.