ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We are often asked the same questions about project-related content. We will take this opportunity to provide some answers. How can we help you?
- General questions on the project basics
- Land area ownership
- Land management
- Water management
- Nature and environment
- Funding and support
- Long-term perspective
GENERAL QUESTIONS ON THE PROJECT BASICS
How will it be ensured that the justified interests of neighbouring landowners are taken into account?
All stakeholders are involved in water law approval procedures. We will listen to every stakeholder and legitimate interests will be considered in the planning and implementation of overarching solutions.
Is participation voluntary?
In the preliminary stages of approval procedures, solutions are sought for everyone involved in the issue of rising water levels. Early stage participation prior to the initiation of a licensing procedure is voluntary. In the course of the approval procedures, all stakeholders are involved on the basis of the applicable legal situation.
What scientific definitions exist in water and / or agriculture for the term „ground proximity? Is this expression legally defined?
Ground proximity is not a scientific term, nor is it legally defined; however, it is frequently used in water management. This generally means water levels of no more than 20 cm below ground level to the ground surface.
LAND AREA OWNERSHIP
What happens to the leases when the State buys the parcels we use from the owners?
The lease agreements are taken over in accordance with the legal regulations in the BGB and retain their validity.
Why does the State want to acquire areas of land in the first place?
The State of Brandenburg does not intend to buy peatlands in their entirety or to displace owners. Rather, land is needed for exchange projects in the context of land use adaptation. In this way, these exchange areas – as land – ultimately end up in areas that become less use intensive or, in some cases, are no longer useable at all.
If the State of Brandenburg buys the land areas, should we then expect restrictions on the areas we use?
The ultimate goal is to manage peatlands in a climate-friendly way with the water levels close to the flora that are required for this purpose and to improve the landscape water balance. The majority of the peatlands, which will be wetter in the future, are to continue to be usable. The changes occur in the form of biomass management and utilisation.
If we lease from the Ministry of Finance, on what terms? It is hardly feasible to lease land from the BVVG, it is far too expensive; is that also the case here?
The lease prices are set by the Ministry of Finance and calculated in such a way that no higher burdens arise for the leaseholders. The lease prices of the State are relatively stable over many years, are based on the standard land value and the land value figure and are significantly below the lease level of the BVVG tenders.
What prices are paid per hectare for land purchases?
The prices offered are determined by an experienced service provider of the State on the basis of the land market reports prepared annually by the districts, the standard land values contained in these reports as well as supplementary criteria. On this basis, fluctuations upwards and downwards are possible, which is justified in the specific characteristics of the area. The market reports have been publicly accessible on the internet free of charge for about 3 years (https://www.gutachterausschuss-bb.de/). Map overviews of the current standard land values are available at: https://www.boris-brandenburg.de/boris-bb/
What specific objectives is the State of Brandenburg pursuing in the short, medium and long term with the acquisition of the peatland areas and what specific measures are planned in this context?
The purchase of peatland areas enables the State of Brandenburg to accompany approval procedures for raising the water table and to use these areas for land swaps or to compensate for restrictions for the benefit of land users and owners.
However, if I agree as a farmer, the value of my leased land is diminished. However, I am required to return the land to the landlord in the same condition at the end of the lease. How is that expected to work?
The majority of the land is to remain usable. This is achieved by the State of Brandenburg supporting farmers in the management model transition and adaptation of utilisation, among other aspects, with the Klimamoor project. Where land is no longer usable, the State is in a position to make offers for purchase or exchange. Furthermore, in the course of the registration of easements in the land register, corresponding compensation payments for restrictions of use or abandonment of use can be paid to the owners.
What amount is available for further land purchases? What is the remaining period for which funds are available?
The State of Brandenburg uses various sources to finance the projects. In future, the federal government is to provide greater support to the States in the implementation of climate peatland protection projects. The amount available each year varies. It is expected to increase in the coming years.
What if we or one of the owners do not agree?
Decisions on interests and property concerns are examined, considered and publicly negotiated in procedures for approval regulated in water law. In these procedures, the interests of private law and the general public are weighed up against each other. No concern is to be forgotten and solutions are to be found for all these interests.
What are the prospects for land managers? Does the project provide a concept for these farms that deals with the type of management, with the necessary operational investments and their financial viability, if necessary by means of subsidies from public funds?
The intention of the Klimamoor project is to accompany and help the users to adapt in the medium and long term. Wet peatlands are also manageable under present day conditions. A market will arise for the products from wet peatlands, which will also strengthen regional utilisation and value creation in particular. This process has begun and will accelerate. It not only affects Germany, but will lead to more wetland management worldwide in the coming decades. In addition, there is a growing demand for sustainably produced products and also for lucrative support programmes specifically designed to support wet peatland management. Those who adapt their management now have more time to convert and are better prepared for the partially new requirements.
They are now presenting us with some wonderful funding opportunities. We are adapting our management and the land is getting wet and worth less. At some point, the funding guidelines will fall away. What about our land then? We frequently experience something like this in agricultural promotion.
The process of saving greenhouse gas emissions will continue, as can be deduced from the current climate legislation. Long-term and binding targets for achieving climate neutrality have been set in this regard. It is therefore expected that the funding landscape and the general economic structure will also be geared towards this in the long term.
We were obliged to co-finance the operation of the pumping stations through the levy for the water and soil associations. Do we get the money back now?
It has been necessary to pass on the additional costs of drainage through pumping stations to the beneficiaries for a number of years. As the water level in peatlands is raised, the control effort is reduced. When this reduction in expenditure has then reached a certain level, the WBV will be able to pass on this saving to the members or the beneficiaries of the pumping station operation.
What is it like now, for example, when new barrages are installed and dams are reactivated and rehabilitated? Will the costs be passed on to us?
Raising the water level generally reduces the control and maintenance effort for water management facilities. Construction measures are mostly financed by public funds. The users or owners do not normally participate in these costs.
Who then bears the costs for the annual management of the dams and who manages them?
The watercourse maintenance associations are responsible for controlling important facilities. Viable solutions for the management of new additional dams in larger quantities must be created in the areas on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all neighbouring interests.
Does it amount to abolishing the animals or feeding them only with maize silage and producing raw materials for “paper” etc. on the meadows instead?
One of the goals in Brandenburg is to stabilise the husbandry of farm animals in the open landscape and to generally increase it again in the future, partly for reasons of animal welfare. This also applies to peatlands. There may hoewever be a need for conversion with regard to the specific species or breeds of animals kept. In specific cases, it is also possible that pastureland and forage areas are relocated to the fringes of peatlands and to mineral soil areas.
How high should the water levels be dammed?
That depends on each individual case. The full mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions only occurs at high summer water levels over 20 cm below ground level. Summer water levels of no more than 20 to 40 cm below ground level still cause soil water to rise to the surface of the bog, which does not prevent peat depletion, but slows it down. The only stable soils in the long term, however, are peat soils with water levels of 20 cm below ground level and higher. There will be peatlands where 20-40 cm below ground level needs to suffice as higher water levels are not sustainable. In this case, the peatland soil will continue to sink in the future, which will make it difficult for future generations to cultivate it.
What happens now?
It is particularly important in the current early phase of the climate marsh project to obtain reliable findings on the current hydrological conditions in the project areas. These are used as the basis for determining the potential development options, which are in turn used to derive various scenarios for feasibility. This process takes place in consultation with all those involved, especially the users, landowners and neighbouring residents.
NATURE AND ENVIRONMENT
Could new protected areas be designated with these projects?
No new protected areas will be designated from the Klimamoor project itself. Corresponding designation procedures are based on other parameters that are independent of this project. The State of Brandenburg and the Federal Republic of Germany also pursue goals of biodiversity conservation and enhancement in accordance with international agreements. Raising the water level in peatlands can also be a contribution.
Will there be adverse effects on biotope and species protection?
A specific assessment of the area will be conducted and all necessary measures implemented. In general, however, it can be assumed that a reduction of the man-made water deficit in peatlands is more beneficial than detrimental to the typical peatland species and species communities. Wet peatland management with adapted technology could provide significant benefits for several species groups and, for example, save numerous bird species from extinction in Brandenburg.
FUNDING AND SUPPORT
Do all farmers get the funding, including part-time farmers?
Yes. The type and amount of funding depends on the specific promotional programmes.
Who provides compensation payments in this context? To what extent are these already foreseeable? Which calculation method was used to calculate any damage that might occur?
The promoters of projects are obliged to pay compensation to the extent that damage is foreseeable as a result of the measures. As for the Klimamoor project, the project owner is the State. Expert assessors are consulted to assess the damage. The State tries to avoid or minimise these facts in the forefront of the approval procedures.
What happens to the agricultural land use?
Agricultural and forestry use in peatland areas should also be preserved in the future and, if possible, intensified. The goal is to adapt to the high water retention in the peatlands, which is to be achieved in the future, by means of wet, climate-friendly management methods. Comprehensive support is to be provided in this process in order to enable the climate and water protection services desired by farmers and foresters for the whole of society and nature in the long term and in a sustainable manner.
What happens to the land after the project ends?
The project is aiming for a permanent transition in the management of economically utilised wet peatlands. The results obtained are to be generalised and could serve as an example for the upcoming adaptation of peatland utilisation in all peatlands in Germany.