Joanna Suliga / PhD researcher

Vrije Universiteit Brussel / Msc in Environmental Engineering

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Environmental conservation is not only the part of my personal concerns, but also my professional interests. I am a member of the research project HiWET that aims at supporting development of more sustainable management practices in wetlands through integration of ecological studies, remote sensing, hydrological and energy balance modeling. Wetlands as a transition area between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems are among one of the most biodiverse habitats on our planet. Especially peat forming wetlands abundantly present in temperate and (sub)arctic climatic regions of northern hemisphere are proved to mitigate the effects of climate change. Peatlands play a role in improving water quality, recycling or storing large amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, biogenic silica and carbon. They are also affecting the hydrological regime by storing and releasing water during dry and wet seasons thus mitigating the impact of floods or droughts respectively. Degradation of wetlands is often an irreversible process that leads not only to extinction of plant and animal species but also to changing climate locally and globally through the release of stored carbon. Sadly, those precious ecosystems slowly disappear from European landscape thus without combining the efforts of local managers, ecologists, scientists and stakeholders we can lose them forever.
In my professional and private life, I strongly encourage people to take collective effort in environmental protection because every single action matters. Even more, I am convinced that being more pro-environmental is not a sacrifice but a long-term investment in wellbeing. I prefer walking because it is the most natural way of travelling. I choose natural materials over artificial as it is easier to recycle them and are less toxic for me and the environment. Plastic containers slowly contaminate stored food, so I use glass boxes and jars instead. I buy local agriculture products, eat vegetarian food and take cotton bag for each shopping. I reduce the number of things I have by simply waiting a few weeks before I buy something new to see if it is essential.