Carbon Connects

Project Summary

WETLANDS as a natural solution against CLIMATE CHANGE

 North-West EuropeWetlands are the key to help us mitigate Climate Change!

Today one third of the global CO2 emissions are caused by drained and/or burned peatlands for agricultural use. There is an urgent need for sustainable alternatives and innovative business models for farmers and land managers on rewetted peatlands.

The Carbon Connects Interreg project (CConnects) aims to reduce 50% of the unnecessarily high CO2 emissions caused by traditional practices on agricultural peatlands. CConnects promotes alternative practices of wet agriculture to protect the farmer and the environment against environmental consequences of climate change. In low lying peatlands this can be done by raising water levels and introducing alternative crops and /or livestock adapted to wet conditions. Examples are Cattail and Reed, which can be used as low carbon construction materials, bio-fuels and animal feed. The cultivation of peat moss could prove an interesting alternative for the production of growing substrates for horticulture, which currently is a huge consumer of turf. In the UK the aim is to work with farmers and landowners to return upland peat bogs to the best possible ecological condition, maximizing carbon storage. Connects will work with a wide range of stakeholders (local authorities, research institutions, farmers, and landowners ) to conserve and enhance wetland ecosystems by reducing emissions by  about 1600-3200 ton per year on pilot sites across N-W Europe with a total surface of around 80 ha.


To facilitate this transformation in land use, CConnects develops new business models including the application of blue and Carbon-credit schemes to enable widespread implementation. These innovative business models will be implemented on 8 pilots in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, UK and Ireland, jointly representing all peatland types across North-West Europe.

A Carbon Connnects’ transnational Farmer-2-Farmer learning programme will allow land users to directly share and scale experiences, while actively targeting new adopters with a transnational online toolbox of state of art land use and farming practices.

Additionally, a set of policy papers will be drafted with the objective to adjust European rural policies in favor of paludiculture in North-West Europe.


Check out our project VIDEO

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Project Partners

  • Province of North Brabant

    1 Brabantlaan
    Den Bosch
    5216 TV

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  • The Rivers Trust

    Rain-Charm House, Kyl Cober Parc, Stoke Climsland
    Callington, Cornwall
    United Kingdom

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  • Flanders research institute for agriculture, fisheries and food

    72 Gulden Vlieslaan

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  • European Landowners Organization

    67 Rue de Trèves

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  • Association of the Chambers of Agriculture of the Atlantic Area

    1 Maison d’agriculture, Rue P.A. Bobierre – La Géraudière

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  • Philipps-University Marburg

    10 Deutschhaustraße

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  • Limerick Institute of Technology

    Moylish Park

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  • North Pennines AONB Partnership

    1 Martin Street, Stanhope, DL13 2UY

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  • Flemish Land Agency

    Koning Albert II-laan 15 - 1210 Brussels

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  • Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science

    26a Larensteinselaan

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Lead partner

Organisation Contact name Address Email Website
Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science Toine Smits 26a Larensteinselaan
Name Contact Name Email Country
Province of North Brabant Frank Van Lamoen Netherlands
The Rivers Trust Rob Collins United Kingdom
Flanders research institute for agriculture, fisheries and food Frank Stubbe Belgium
European Landowners Organization Marie-Alice BUDNIOK Belgium
Association of the Chambers of Agriculture of the Atlantic Area Pascal Dagron France
Philipps-University Marburg Markus Hassler Germany
Limerick Institute of Technology Seamus Hoyne Ireland
Wear Rivers Trust Martin Colling United Kingdom
North Pennines AONB Partnership Paul Leadbitter United Kingdom
Flemish Land Agency Edgard Daemen Belgium
Durham County Council Paul Leadbitter United Kingdom
Radboud University Nijmegen Jeroen Geurts Netherlands
Waterschap Dommel Gert-Jan van Duinen Netherlands
Staatsbosbeheer (forestry service) Klaas Van der Laan Netherlands
Waterschap Aa en Maas Gert-Jan van Duinen Netherlands
ILVO (Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research) Greet Ruysschaert Belgium
Chamber of Agriculture Pays de la Loire Véronique Chauvin France


Carbon Connects aims to reduce the high carbon footprint of peatlands soils in Northwest Europe by introducing new bio-based business models developed for sustainable land management practices.
The business models enable the capturing of carbon in bio-based products which are marketed to different sectors such as construction and energy.
Carbon credit schemes are also enabled by ‘sealing’ the ground where CO2 no longer has the chance to dissolve.


The Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland and the United Kingdom are building living labs, collaborating to share best practices and establish transnational potential for up-scaling.
These countries have an average pilot area of 100,000 m² each (10ha). Carbon can be stored in alternative crops, suitable for wet conditions (eg. cattails, reeds, willow, cranberry and peat moss).
These crops are processed to create sustainable bio-based construction materials, fuel sources or food.


By implementing the business models, Carbon Connects will:

  • Generate a Farmer-to-Farmer learning program to share best practices in each region by peers.
  • Develop a set of policy papers to scale up the required agricultural policy shift in NWE and EU.
  • Create an online collaborative living lab platform to have joint plan development and implementation of wet agriculture.
  • Set up an online toolbox of state of the art land use practices and business models to share knowledge.


Carbon Connects will reduce CO2 emissions with about 90-180 tonnes per year, in its pilot stage alone. Viable businesses are created that tackle climate change and give protection against environmental issues.
The partnership will create an ecosystem with local authorities, research institutions, farmers, and landowners to strengthen collaboration and make the region more resilient to climate change.

Carbon Connects Presentation

scientific paper about the fodder value of cattail for cattle, and the effects of harvest date and harvest period

Restoring NW European peatlands through sustainable building material, by Aldert van Weeren


Staatsbosbeheer, Water board Aa & Maas and Province North-Brabant have a pilot site in the Deurnsche Peel. There is a plot planted with cattail (Typha latifolia) and a plot with willow (Salix). The water table in the cattail plot could not be raised to the surface or above (which would be optimal for cattail) and both plots suffered from the exceptionally dry summer of 2018. This had a high impact on the survival and growth of the plants, especially the cattail, that were still in the phase of establishment. Probably new plants and additional measures need to be taken in 2019 to make this pilot more successful. In addition, water board Aa & Maas selected two other pilot sites. One site focusses on the growth and use of Miscanthus biomass as part of biological growing media for oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) in Erp. An additional pilot site will be prepared in the coming months in Aarle-Rixtel/Helmond. This site is situated next to the Schevelingse Loop and is currently a wet grassland. Here several small ditches will be closed to better retain water in the site and thereafter cattail and probably reed (Phragmites australis) will be planted.

Water board De Dommel is still in the process of selecting good sites for paludiculture. An important lesson that is learned in this project is that in the well-drained higher sandy soil landscape it appears to be difficult to find plots that can be sufficiently rewetted to establish a paludiculture. One potential site has now been selected near Hulsel, located in a stream valley that is planned to be reconstructed.


VLM and ILVO work together on pilot sites 'De Blankaart' and 'Kwetshage'. ILVO is the sub-partner of VLM and is responsible for measuring the effect of rewetting on soil carbon stocks in the Belgian pilot sites and evaluation of the biomass use potential to fit into the local business model.

De Blankaart is an area of approximately 1000 ha. The area is part of the Natura 2000 network and is situated in the Special Protected Area Birds Directive ‘IJzer- en Handzamevallei and is partly  managed as a nature reserve. It is located within the flood plain of the River IJzer in the province of West-Flanders. The most prominent landscape features  are the 50 ha large pond of named ‘Blankaartvijver’, and a vast area of grasslands that gets flooded during high water levels in the river. The Blankaartvijver is the result of peat extraction during the Middle Ages. In large parts of the project area peat is still present in the soil as a layer of 0,5 m to 2 m thick, overlayed by a shallow layer of clayey sediment. Locally peat is surfacing. 

Apart from the specific restoration of the former reed beds, wetland will be restored over the entire project area (1000 ha). It is expected that the rewetting will increase the C-stock in the soil. This will be evaluated by monitoring of soil carbon content.  The rise of water level will change vegetation types over a large area with concomitantly changing conditions for managing the land.

The pilot site Kwetshage covers an area of approximately 90 ha. It is situated between the cities of Brugge and Oostende in the province of West-Flanders. Apart from a reed marsh of 4 ha, the area is in agricultural use. 50 ha of high quality reed marsh needs to be created in the pilot. A rewetting of the entire pilot area will be established. 


The UK pilot site is coordinated and managed by Durham County Council (North Pennines AONB Partnership) and the Wear Rivers Trust as a sub-partner. 

The UK pilot sites aim the restoration of 10 ha of degraded blanket bog that is missing key bog forming species causing a downward ecological trajectory. These degraded sites are becoming drier due to historic loss of sphagnum caused by overgrazing, burning and drainage, consequently risking further sphagnum loss accelerating the cycle of deterioration and potentially leading to the elimination of all sphagnum cover.

Within each pilot site several methods of inoculation such as clump planting, plug planting, beads and slimes and site preparation will be utilised as governed by site conditions. Monitoring quadrats will be established within each pilot site. They will also invest in the facilitation of 25 Countryside Stewardship Agreements with landowners in the North Pennines AONB, to ensure they include the restoration plans and capital funds for peatland restoration across the AONB. 

Current peatland restoration activity over the North of England is constrained by the limited supply and high costs of plug plants required for the re-vegetation of bare peat. It is expected that peatland restoration will continue over extensive areas of upland England for decades to deliver the benefits referenced above. It is proposed to augment the current limited supply chain through the establishment of new specialist upland plant nursery capacity, representing an opportunity for sustainable farm diversification and local employment. The North Pennines is an isolated rural area of economic and social deprivation, with limited local employment opportunities beyond marginal 
upland farming and seasonal employment in the tourist and game shooting industries.


Info coming soon


Info coming soon

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