Swedish National Committee (TorvForsk)
e-mail: torbjorn.claesson (at) neova.se
c/o Neova AB
121 77 Johanneshov
phone: +46 70 240 33 15 / +46 8441 7073
e-mail: claes.rulcker (at) svensktorv.se
Annual Report 2009
International Peat Congress 2012
Work on the 2012 International Peat Congress “Peatlands in Balance” in Sweden continues. The organisation is running smoothly and we are receiving excellent support from the Irish team that was in charge of the previous Congress, for which we are very grateful. Our website is up and running and several applicants have already shown interest in coming. On 4 February 2010 we will have a kickoff activity for our Swedish sponsors, with a similar programme for our foreign sponsors later on. We have decided to invite our sponsors to several seminars on topics like climate policy, general acceptance of peat production and issues related to horticultural peat. These seminars will take place in Sweden, Ireland, Brussels and Germany before the congress. The work of setting up a scientific committee is due to begin in the spring.
Other activities at TorvForsk
A number of important research projects are in progress in several fields, such as biological diversity, co-combustion and climate issues. The foundation also has a very active group that works with topics surrounding peat litter, with several projects on horses and peat litter already under way. Contacts have been made in this connection with Finland to increase the organisation’s level of international cooperation.
The Foundation also plans to carry out a number of projects aimed at production improvement and environmental stewardship of peat production. For example one project is involved in finding a method to determine reasonable benchmarks and limit values for drainage water from peat sites. What impact might an increased extraction of peat from ditched peatlands have on biological diversity? The first part of the project, which is a literature study, was completed last autumn. One of the conclusions is that there is a significant lack of knowledge about the conservation values of ditched peatlands, as the area has seldom been studied from such a point of view.
Restoration is a key to evaluating the effects of conservation management on biological diversity, but knowledge of restoration methods in relation to particular environmental goals needs to be strengthened. A website about restoration methods will therefore be launched this spring. Designed to appeal to decision-makers, students, researchers and an interested general public, it will describe how restoration is carried out and what areas/peat sites in Sweden have already been restored. The website will also contain practical advice to the peat production sector, pertinent legislation and a discussion forum. Scientific reports related to restoration will also be available at the website. The Irish website about this topic has been the project’s source of inspiration.
A further identified important area is to develop methods for evaluating peatlands from the point of view of their significance to nature and cultural tradition. During the spring, we hope to initiate projects devoted to this subject. Another research project, aimed at identifying the importance of peat in the production of whisky, has been started and will be presented at the congress. TorvForsk has closely followed the work of the IPS Strategy for Responsible Peatland Management. We have great hopes that this work will be completed during the year 2010.
The working groups set up by TorvForsk in cooperation with the Swedish Peat Producers Association (SPPA) are running very smoothly. The objective of the groups is to find platforms for discussion and exploration of important issues and for initiation of new research. The groups will monitor research and development in each field. The user groups consist of representatives from businesses in the peat sector, energy companies, the research community, public authorities and interest groups. The groups are essential to the long-term development of the peat sector. The production group works with legislation and issues of decision-making processes, as well as monitoring R&D in the field. Together with our energy user group, and with the SPPA, the group has helped establish criteria and set up a research programme linked to the work of the peat sector in promoting sustainable peat production. In cooperation with the Swedish Energy Agency, TorvForsk hopes to get this research programme underway during the spring.
TorvForsk is also presently campaigning to recruit new members. It’s important to have a broad membership base before the Congress in 2012!
Annual Report 2008
International Peat Congress 2012
Organising the 2012 International Peat Congress in Sweden “Peatlands in Balance” has entered the next phase. We have established our organisation, continued work on the budget and established a road map. We are also intensifying our efforts to establish sponsorship.
At the Tullamore Congress, we introduced the coming Swedish Congress with a presentation filled with music and songs. This offered a foretaste of our expectations for the meeting in Stockholm in 2012. In general, we experienced the Congress in Tullamore as a very significant and inspiring event. We gathered plenty of ideas that we have brought into our organising efforts for the coming Congress. We will also meet the Organising Committee for the Tullamore Congress to check our planning efforts - this is seen as a very important part for our work in organising the coming Congress.
Our regular activities at TorvForsk
Many important research projects are going on in a number of fields, including biological diversity, co-combustion and particle emissions. We are producing a book on cultivation substrates, as well as conducting further studies on the health effects that peat litter has on domestic animals. A complete list of all our projects can be seen at www.torvforsk.se.
Co-operation across borders
Several of us also had the chance to take part in the Finnish National Committee’s excursion to peatlands in their home country. We saw many beautiful areas, including sites that didn’t have to do with peat, like a quarry. I also gained insight into how Suoseura, the Finnish Peatland Society, functions, and got inspiration for ideas on how we can attract more individual members to TorvForsk and how we can then take care of them best. As a result, we plan an excursion for the TorvForsk members in early fall 2009. We produced a new folder to introduce our activities at TorvForsk and we will use it in our efforts to attract new members.
The day before the excursion in Finland, representatives from Finland, Sweden and Estonia gathered to discuss co-ordinating our research activities. This was the first step in our efforts to organise a Nordic/Baltic seminar and will also include looking into the availability of EU funding for the meeting. We agreed that we face similar issues in the Nordic and Baltic areas.
TorvForsk works closely with Svebio, which participated in the Nordic Bioenergy Conference in Jönköping in June 2008. TorvForsk hosted a side event about peat, including presentations such as
- Practical experiences of the use of peat in a heating plant
- New methods for peat production,
- Peat pellets for small scale use
- Sustainable peat production and use - environmental sustainability criteria for peat.
The Working Committees that TorvForsk has started in collaboration with the Swedish Peat Producers Association are functioning well. These Committees are intended to help find platforms for discussions, studying important issues, and initiating new research projects.
The Committees will track research and development in their specific fields. Members are representatives from companies in the peat and energy industries, the research community, as well as public authorities and other interested stakeholders. We see these Committees as essential to continue long-term development in the peat sector. The Commissions are:
- Energy: corrosion problems, using pellets, emissions as well as biodiesel from peat, including joint activities between Sweden and Finland.
- Cultivation and litter: topics related to peat litter, such as its effect on animal health. This is a very active group that has met at least once a month. We have conducted several studies, compiled a folder describing the advantages and disadvantages of using peat litter and we have started a new project related to using peat litter for horses. There have already been several studies of this kind in Finland, so we plan to invite a Finnish research team to Sweden this spring. We had also planned, with IPS Holland, to bring in Dutch farmers to study the use of peat litter in Sweden. Various problems related to Swedish quarantine regulations for foreign visits to Swedish farms created obstacles to these plans. But we anticipate that this proposal will lead to other joint activities with the IPS Dutch National Committee and possibly with the Dutch Agricultural University.
- In close co-operation with our TorvForsk user groups, the Swedish Peat Producers Association formed a Production Committee to address legislation and issues related to the legal climate and to monitor R&D in the field. Members include representatives from businesses in the peat sector, the research community and public authorities.
TorvForsk’s activities are partly financed by membership fees, but funding is limited. Much time is spent seeking joint funding for TorvForsk projects. These activities have brought success in 2008 so that several projects are currently jointly funded by industry businesses and authorities.