European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC)

Mapping Peatland Justice

Mapping Peatland Justice is a narrative shifting project, working to transform our collective understanding of peatlands and their value, through various mapping practices (e.g. deep maps). These maps make visible the trade flows of peat across Europe, highlighting where peat is extracted and where it is consumed and demonstrating the imbalances between them. It makes space for diverse narratives, histories, futures, storytelling forms, and allows for overlooked voices to be placed at the fore.

European peatlands are in highly degraded states with a critical lack of understanding of the ecological and cultural significance of these ecosystems. This leads to many solutions failing to tackle the root causes of peatland degradation, threatening long-term restoration and conservation initiatives and exacerbating social issues. Europe is where 80% of global peat extraction occurs (approx. 20 million tons yearly).

Emissions on such a huge compound the pre-existing inequalities between Europe’s contribution to the climate crisis and the contribution of other continents. Not only is this an instance of acute injustice on a global scale, there are also inequalities present within Europe. A handful of Western European countries make up almost three-quarters of the total imports (Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium and Italy), whereas Baltic States are some of the biggest exporters. This creates an imbalanced situation where the countries importing the peat are not those experiencing the negative impacts of drainage and extraction. Our project visualises the trade routes and relationships of the peat trade.

We demonstrate the interconnected histories of peatlands across Europe and visualise trade dynamics in a novel way, making complex and technical information more meaningful and legible for us all. The different mapping forms include stories, language, social & natural history, folklore and more, demonstrating the innumerous values and relationships with peatlands.

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