Boghopping: wetland restoration in Skåne

The carbon storage potential of these locations depends on their wetness: if they are drained or drought-stricken, the carbon starts spewing back out

The wet parts of countries have always held a dark allure: swamps, bogs, and lakes are surrounded by stories of fantastical and dark creatures, particularly in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. This has lent such locations a somewhat undeserved bad reputation, and many were drained and filled to make way for housing, agriculture, and forestry.

However, the recent race for environmental carbon capture has led to something of a wetland renaissance! Their anoxic environments ensure that whatever organic matter dies there, stays there… which is maybe in keeping with the old spooky vibes, but critical for ensuring a turn towards negative emissions. 

The carbon storage potential of such locations depends on their wetness: if they are drained or drought-stricken, the carbon starts spewing back out! Re-wetting historical wetlands (and maintaining restored ones) requires a lot of work—but as luck would have it, the boom in cool tourism and carbon voluntourism has ensured a steady flow of money and young workers.

So, if you’re coming to Skåne as a “newmad” to work or to cool off, there are lots of opportunities in this sector for you to get stuck into… though hopefully not literally! Some of the schemes are a little more sincere than the others, perhaps… but hey, it’s not our job to judge. Here’s a couple of examples that might give you a feel for the options available:

Go RWARLing (Re-Wetting-And-Re-Laxing)

Cringey acronym aside, this concept is hard to beat. In rural hinterlands of the Slow Coast, there is a string of recently re-wetted and still dry historic wetlands. Every year, Mediterranean and North African residents travel north to escape the summer heatwaves, and working the wetlands offers a perfect combination: water, free room and board, and companionship. Whether you help re-meander a coastal river, clear brush from a forest bog, or fill in dikes, you sleep well at night knowing that you are boosting the ecosystem’s carbon storage potential!

(And also, the end-of-season Bog, Beer ‘n’ Bath Bash in the lakes around Christinehof castle—out on the wilds between Tomelilla and Brösarp—is a pretty decent pay-off for all the work… )

Fyll Träsk För Folk Race (a.k.a. Carbon for Cars)

Got the need for speed? Miss the sound of a roaring motor? Then this re-wetting operation, very popular with the local brummare subculture, is the one for you. Due to a loophole negotiated into the latest carbon trading scheme, wetland restoration credits can be used to compensate for “emissions connected to historically important cultural practices”… and the Swedish tradition of “folk race” (a rather non-descript term that basically means “driving old discontinued cars on a gravel track”) counts as historically important, thanks to some very dogged lobbying over the last few decades.

It turns out that, if you know where to look (or who to ask), there are still some old SUVs that haven’t been stripped for parts, so every year the CfC förening fills in the necessary paperwork, procures some petrol (presumably through circuitous yet ultimately legal routes), and the re-wetters race until the cars are reduced to scrap.

Is this really the best use of carbon credits? Almost certainly not. But is it exciting? Hell yeah!

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