To celebrate World Peatland Day on June 2, a 24-hour online peat festival is being held this weekend.
The festival will run for the whole of Sunday May 31 to raise awareness about the importance of peat and the value of peatlands.
Peat is the surface organic layer of a soil that consists of partially decomposed organic matter, derived mostly from plant material, which has accumulated under conditions of waterlogging, oxygen deficiency, high acidity and nutrient deficiency.
South African peatlands provide multiple ecosystem services to society, including clean water, storing carbon (assisting with climate regulation), protection against droughts and floods, biodiversity enhancement, pest control and many more. Despite this, the peatlands are highly threatened, many are already lost to peat fires burning underground, and habitat transformation, for example, ploughing for agriculture, or pollution from mining effluent.
The online festival invites everyone to participate for free. There will be in-field demos, seminars, music and poetry readings, quizzes and competitions.
South African peat experts, alongside the South African Wetland Society, have been invited to host two sessions at the festival.
“South Africa in particular is hosting two of the events, the first is an African peatland quiz, and then the second is a peatland photo contest where you simply submit your best peatland photos. For both of these competitions, participants can stand the chance to win a three-day stay in a safari tent at Marakele National Park,” said Dr Alanna Rebello, an ecologist from Bergvliet.
The festival is being organised by RE-PEAT, a youth-led group based in Amsterdam who raise awareness about peatlands in Western Europe.
There will be live and pre-recorded sessions at different time slots during the 24 hours. Participants can also interact with each other while viewing the various sessions.
The Great 10-point African Peatland Quiz, organised and hosted by South African peatland scientists, will be opened to the public on May 30 on the event website, 24 hours in advance of the session, to give everyone globally a chance to participate. The answers, and the winners will be announced in a live web seminar in the festival session by South Africa’s peatland expert, Dr Piet-Louis Grundling.
The link to the African peatland quiz will be posted and enabled on May 30, 24 hours before the event at here.
The peatland photo contest accepts entries until today, Thursday May 28. Winners will be announced on May 31, also on the RE-PEAT website. For more details, email IMCG2020SA@gmail.com