Living lab site in French Pyrenees 

Bernadouze Peatland

Living lab site Bernadouze Peatland is a part of the unique Europe wide Living labs network of ALFAWetlands project. It is nestled in the picturesque Pyrenees landscape of southwestern France. The area is a captivating natural gem that holds significant ecological value. 

This area is a moss-covered wetland with diverse flora and fauna. Spanning over 1,200 hectares, Bernadouze Peatland stands as a vital ecosystem with immense contributions to climate regulation, biodiversity conservation, and water purification.

This area has a long history, including changing human intervention. Even recently its management is undergoing through the changes. The peatland is a part of biological reserve since 1983. And is located very close to the border with Spain, where another ALFAwetlands Spain Living Lab site is located.

Please also read: Types of wetlands

Peatlands act as carbon sinks

One of the remarkable features of Bernadouze Peatland is its role in carbon sequestration. Peatlands act as carbon sinks, storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The slow decomposition of organic matter in waterlogged conditions prevents carbon release, making peatlands effective in mitigating climate change. 

Bernadouze Peatland plays a crucial role in this regard, absorbing and storing carbon, thereby helping to offset greenhouse gas emissions. It is storing large amounts of carbon dioxide and playing a significant role in mitigating climate change.

Peatlands in maintaining water quality

Peatlands in the Pyrenees also play a vital role in regulating water flow. Acting as natural sponges, they retain and slowly release water. It helping to prevent floods during heavy rainfalls and ensuring a steady water supply during drier periods. 

In addition to its ecological significance, Bernadouze Peatland plays a vital role in maintaining water quality. The wetland acts as a natural filter, purifying water by trapping sediments and removing pollutants before they enter downstream water bodies. This function is critical for maintaining the health of aquatic ecosystems and ensuring the availability of clean water for both wildlife and human communities.

Conservation focus on Bernadouze Peatland

Given its ecological importance, Bernadouze Peatland became a hotspot for conservation efforts. Local and national authorities, along with environmental organizations, have taken steps to protect and restore this valuable ecosystem. Measures include monitoring of water levels, managing grazing activities, and raising awareness among the public about the importance of preserving peatlands

ALFAWetland team visit Bernadouze Peatland

Bernadouze Peatland and biodiversity

One of the key features of peatlands in the Pyrenees is their remarkable biodiversity. These peatlands provide a habitat for numerous specific plant species, including sphagnum mosses, sedges, and carnivorous plants like the sundew. 

Additionally, the unique hydrological conditions create an ideal environment for rare and endangered fauna such as the Pyrenean desman, a small aquatic mammal, and the Pyrenean brook salamander. This peatland is recognized as an important breeding site for various rare and endangered bird species and so contributing to their conservation.


In conclusion, Living lab Bernadouze peatland stands as a remarkable natural treasure, offering invaluable services to the environment and society. Its role in carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and water purification highlights the need to safeguard and preserve this unique ecosystem for future generations. 

By recognizing the significance of Bernadouze peatland and taking appropriate conservation actions, we can ensure the continued ecological health and resilience of this extraordinary peatland.

In summary, the peatlands of the Pyrenees Mountains are exceptional ecosystems, brimming with biodiversity and offering invaluable ecosystem services. Preserving and understanding these unique habitats is crucial for conserving the natural heritage of the Pyrenees and ensuring the sustainable management of these fragile peatlands for future generations.

In the Framework of ALFAwetlands project measurements will be continued on Bernadouze peatland by CNRS partner in order to assess the impact of climate change on the peatland functioning. 

researcher, member of the ALFAwetlands team

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