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Commission VIII - Cultural aspects of peat and peatlands

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More information: www.peatandculture.nl

Chairman: Dr. Michiel Gerding
Parkstraat 4
9401 LJ Assen
The Netherlands
+31 592300450
+31 654784741
(f) +31 592305940
email: m.gerding at home.nl, m.gerding at drentsplateau.nl

Many IPS-members, and others, have an interest in aspects of peat lands and peat use that do not naturally fit within the domains of the first seven IPS Commissions. For example, pre-historic findings and the history of peat utilisation attract much attention, as many museums and exhibitions testify. The same applies to art, literature, archaeology, biology, sociology, music and anthropology that may address peatlands in their various ways. The IPS feels a public responsibility in stimulating these very diverse interests in peatlands and the many facets of its past and present use.

Commission VIII recognises, of course, that groups and individuals are active on the cultural aspects of peat. By contacting these groups and individuals Commission VIII aims to stimulate and strengthen interest and activities. As a platform it may on the one hand point interested parties to these activities, and on the other hand provide a much larger audience. As a communications channel it also wants to further the mutual understanding between proponents of potentially conflicting interests like nature and heritage conservation and economic use.

As the youngest Commission (activities started in 2003) it is searching for contacts and ideas. Please feel invited to contact the chairman.

Past events associated with Commission VIII were


Steering Group of Commission VIII

Michiel Gerding, the Netherlands, chair
m.gerding@drentsplateau.nl

Anne Jelle Schilstra, the Netherlands
a.j.schilstra@fwn.rug.nl

Andreas Bauerochse, Germany
a.bauerochse@gmx.net

Tom Egan, Ireland
thomas.egan@bnm.ie

Hannu Salo, Finland
hannu.salo@pp2.inet.fi

Reidar Pettersson, Sweden
reidarpettersson@hotmail.com


Annual Report 2010

On an international level so far there has been not much activity within the Commission. The chair participated in the discussions on the draft of the SPRM. An article for Peatlands International was submitted by the chair on the relationship between peat extraction and  the construction of waterways.

Preparations for the World Canals Conference 2011 which will take place in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands 19-23 September  are well under way. (www.worldcanalsconference2011.nl) A call for papers is available on the website.

In the North of the Netherlands and the adjoining German areas there are  canalsystems which are closely linked to the peat extraction in the past. They were build from the 17th century onwards to dehydrate the bogs and to transport the peat.

The last 60 years these canals lost their function as a means of transport. Part of the canalsystem has been filled in and bridges and locks have been removed.
In the last decade the remaining waterways are being revitalised for touristic and economic purposes. Derelict stretches of canals are under reconstruction to create an interlinked canal network again. Large investments are being made. 

Naturpark Moor. A German-Dutch initiative

The Dutch nature reserve Bargerveen and the adjoining peat areas in the German Emsland will be linked together and, once the German peat extraction activities are over, be transformed into one large crossing border reservation. Large scale rewetting will be one of the main features. Touristic and recreational goals go hand in hand with this development.

Tractatus de Turffis

Recently grand old man of the IPS Henk van de Griendt has taken the initiative to publish a translation from Latin of the seventeenth century publication on peat from Martinus Schoock Tractatus de Turffis (1658). It is the oldest publication dedicated specifically to peat.

Annual Report 2009

On an international level so far there has been not much activity. Things are still mostly in a state of development. Within the context of the Netherlands there are some promising activities which may have their effects on the IPS:

World Canals Conference 2011

In the North of the Netherlands and the adjoining German areas there are canal systems which are closely linked to the peat extraction in the past. They were built from the 17th century onwards to dehydrate the bogs and to transport the peat. During the last 60 years, these canals have lost their function as a means of transport. Part of the canal system has been filled in and bridges and locks have been removed. In the last decade the remaining waterways are being revitalised for touristic and economic purposes. Derelict stretches of canals are under reconstruction to create an interlinked canal network again. Large investments are being made. To show what’s happening to an international forum of people who are interested in the technical and historical side of canals etc. and who work together in the World Canals Conference, the 2011 conference will be held in Groningen on 19 - 25 September. The Chair is directly involved in organising this conference and aims to involve the IPS by organising an international session on the relation between peat and water(ways), transport etc.

Peat and tourism

There are a lot of initiatives from Dutch local and regional governments to promote tourism in the former peat areas by way of museums, routes, arrangements etc. There is also a lot of cooperation in this regard with the German neighbours. The Chair is trying to interest these governments in developments abroad, in our fellow IPS countries. For this funds should be collected for a so-called Peat Academy (Veenacademie), an (international) network of peat specialists in all kinds of fields who might be called upon to give advice when needed. Of course the IPS should play a prominent role in this (without having to pay for it). For instance parties could be interested in something like peat sauna.

Geo Park Hondsrug

The Dutch province Drenthe is trying to establish the Hondsrug-area, which has a very specific geological origin, as a Geo-Park, and part of the European network of Geo-Parks. East of this ridge the peat bogs of the Bourtanger Moor developed in the Holocene era. The Dutch peat reservation Bargerveen is situated on the tail end of this ridge. So peat has a story to tell in this respect as well.

Naturpark Moor. A German-Dutch initiative

In the future, Bargerveen and the adjoining peatlands in the German Emsland will be linked together and, once the German peat extraction activities are over, be transformed into one large nature reserve. Large scale rewetting will be one of the main features. Touristic and recreational goals go hand in hand with this development. The Veenacademie and the IPS can play a part in this process. 

Annual Report 2007

Two main issues were most important in the year 2007. Firstly, the web site: Both the technical side of the site and the contents were critically reviewed. They are planned to be overhauled next year, and to be synchronised with the main IPS web site. Improvement will be a matter of continuous attention. The site, which was started as an experiment with a Dutch URL, can now be found at www.peatandculture.org, like the IPS-site. Changes and additions have been made.

The idea was born to send along with PeatNews every now and then a "cultural item" as to present a kind of Commission VIII flavour. This could be paintings, texts or other items that can easily ride piggy-back on or in PeatNews.

Some effort has been made to promote special items for the Tullamore 2008 Congress. Sometimes experts on peat-related cultural subjects are not professionally engaged in these fields, rendering it difficult to visit the congress. So ad-hoc sponsoring has to be found, or other ways to bring their often fascinating knowledge to the forefront. This problem has been discussed this year, and will remain on the agenda for a while.

The Scientific Advisory Board has met twice in 2007, the first time in Tullamore so as to get things moving. One of the points of discussion in the meetings concerned the renewal or continuation of the chairmanships of the eight Commissions.

Annual Report 2006

In 2006, attention of Commission VIII was focused mainly on its website, increasing “outside” input to Commission matters and the International Peat Congress in Tullamore in 2008.

Regarding the website, there are three options for its location. Firstly, outside the IPS website at the URL www.peatandculture.nl. as it was originally placed. Secondly, there is an opportunity to place the pages within the IPS website and adapt its layout, colours and to use other possibilities/limitations. Thirdly, both could exist with a link to the other site. At the end of 2006, the third option is realized, but the double work has clear drawbacks. Both (trial) versions are still in need of further development and a choice has to be made early next year.

The Scientific Advisory Board met twice in 2006, in Hanover in May and in Amsterdam in November. At the Hanover Commission VIII meeting, the 17 attendees discussed how to increase the visibility and content of Commission VIII and how to continue its work. Apart from promoting contributions to the Congress in Tullamore, articles in Peatlands International and stimulating formal and less formal communication between those interested, it was decided to prepare and distribute a questionnaire on these and other matters relating to the Commission. This questionnaire was prepared, distributed among the attendees of the meeting and a number of others involved, but it evoked little response. Work has to continue with more direct personal contact, as it is clear that Cultural Aspects of Peat and Peatlands does have the interest of many people.

A number of plans and ideas for the Tullamore Congress have been discussed but they are still at a very early stage. The Chairs of the eight IPS Commissions are members of the Scientific Committee of the Congress and thus in an excellent position to communicate and stimulate contributions from their respective fields of interest. In March 2007, they will meet in Tullamore to fine-tune the current ideas.

Annual Report 2005

Two major issues dominated the further development of Commission VIII in 2005. First, the death of Wim Tonnis. Wim was a strong personality and a long time advocate for increasing the interest in the cultural and the social aspects of Peat and Peatlands. In fact, he was active in this field years before the name “Commission VIII” was first used. Witness of this is, amongst others, was the exhibition PeatPolis.nl in 2003 that he and Adri de Fluiter, with unbridled energy, made into one of the most successful outdoor peat art events. The opening of the exhibition by Queen Beatrix can be seen as a kind of “quality mark” and a compliment to the initiators. We lost a most remarkable member of the Commission VIII Steering Group.

The other important issue of 2005 is the launching of the Commission VIII web site. At www.PeatAndCulture.nl, a first start has been made to collect a diversity of illustrations and other information about peat-related poetry, paintings and other art, and books. A special feature is a list of museums representing aspects of peat from Finland, Germany, (Northern) Ireland and the Netherlands, most of them with links to their websites. It is a first start and has to be developed further. The web site is kept simple as it is not clear yet how to merge it with the IPS website.

Further, the strengthening of the network of country representatives in most IPS-countries deserves attention. On the website, it can be seen that currently representatives of nine countries are explicitly involved in Commission VIII matters, other countries only nominally. As the further development of the Commission depends critically on the collaboration and contributions of individuals, this network has to be expanded.

At the meeting in Hanover in May 2006, these topics and further steps regarding the expansion and integration of the Commission VIII website, including links to/from national websites etc., will be discussed.

Annual Report 2004

Congress activities

The main event in 2004 for Commission VIII was also the 12th International Peat Congress in Tampere in June. One of the twelve themes of the Congress was “Cultural and Socio-economic aspects of Peat and Peatlands”, Commission VIII’s core business. Cultural aspects were, for the first time, explicitly part of an IPS Congress and included thirteen oral and six posters presentations. About 70 people attended the theme’s session, indicating a substantial interest in the presentations. Also the posters attracted a fair portion of attention and discussion. The subjects ranged from history and linguistics to arts and tourism and beyond. Several of the contributions came from specialists outside the IPS community. All in all, the Congresses experience can be labelled a success. The next challenge of this magnitude is the 13th IPS Congress in Ireland in 2008.

Scientific Advisory Board

One of the decisions of the Executive Board during the Congress concerned stimulating the activities of the Commissions. To achieve this, in the beginning of November, a meeting of members of the Executive Board and the Commission Chairs was held in Amsterdam. The eight Chairs headed by IPS Second Vice President Prof.Dr. Tomasz Brandyk formed the Scientific Advisory Board, a forum for cooperation between the Commissions. In May 2005, in Warsaw, the next meeting will be held where the first results and concrete plans of the Commissions will be discussed. On the wish-list of the Commission VIII is, among other things, an overview of museums having exhibitions related to peat (a good start has been made) and a special website.

Annual Report 2003

This year was the first complete year of the Commission. The first meeting of the Steering Committee together with a number of other interested persons was held in the Veenpark Barger-Compascuum in the Netherlands on 5 April 2003. On the occasion of the International Peat Symposium “Peat in Horticulture – Additives in Growing Media” in Amsterdam on 4 November, an informal lunch discussion took place.

PeatPolis.nl

Two projects were already in the process of being prepared when this Commission was born in November 2002. Most notable was PeatPolis.nl, an outdoor art exhibition of objects made mostly from peat in a peatland area in the east of the Netherlands, which was opened by Queen Beatrix, as reported in issue 1/2003 of Peatlands International. It turned out to be a great success in both the quality of the artworks and the number of visitors.

Archaeology exhibition

Also the archaeology exhibition “Moor Zeiten” in the Industrie Museum in Lohne, Germany, was a very interesting example of the sphere of interest of Commission VIII. The Commission was also introduced at the border-crossing project Natur-park Moor during a joint symposium between the German Peat Society (DGMT) and IPS-Netherlands in Emmen/Meppen on 18 - 21 September.

12th International Peat Congress

At the 12th International Peat Congress in Tampere in June 2004, the Commission will present itself to the IPS community in the form of a scientific session on Theme J, “Cultural and socio-economic aspects of peat and peatlands”, together with a number of poster presentations. Members of the Steering Committee and others have started to prepare these presentations. After that, activities have to be developed on a more regular basis. Of course, everyone with an interest in cultural matters in connection with peat is invited to participate. 

 

FNS