Greifswald – more than two centuries expertise on millennia of peatland history

Since more than 200 years Greifswald has hosted interdisciplinary landscape-oriented research and education providing important impulses to policy and society. Mires and peatlands were and still are a major research focus.


1456 The University of Greifswald is founded. From 1637 to 1815 Greifswald was under Swedish sovereignty and can be thus regarded as ‘oldest Swedish university’.
1769 First professor of Botany.
1788 Johann Quistorp was appointed as interdisciplinary professor for natural history and economics.
1820 Christian Friedrich Hornschuch  establishes peatland science in Greifswald with the series “On the pecularities of the peatland flora in the vicinity of Greifswald“ (German: „Über die Eigenthümlichkeiten der Flora der Torfmoore in der Umgegend von Greifswald“, 1837) and the publication of “Bryologia Germanica” (1823-1831).
1824 Adelbert von Chamisso‘s  study “Investigations of a peatland near Greifswald” (German: „Untersuchung eines Torfmoors bei Greifswald“) initiates palaeoecological peatland research and identifies sea level changes and peatland regeneration.
1853 Carl August Trommer  publishes “Soil assessment by means of wild plants” (German: „Die Bonitirung des Bodens vermittelst wildwachsender Pflanzen“) – a botanical indicator system for site conditions.
1927 Designation of the Kieshofer Moor as a protected area on the initiative of the Professor of Botany Erich Leick. His research substantially contributed to a better understanding of what is nowadays called ecosystem services of peatlands.
1928 Kurd von Bülow  publishes the first pollen diagram for Northeast Germany in “Pollen analysis of the Kieshofer Moor near Greifswald” (German: „Pollenanalytischer Beitrag zur Kenntnis des Kieshofer Moores bei Greifswald“). From 1929, the series “Handbook of Peatland Science” (German: „Handbuch der Moorkunde”) is published.
1935 Erich Leick establishes the Institute of Plant Ecology – the first of its kind in Germany.
1953 Werner Rothmaler writes, in Greifswald, the “Rothmaler” – the best flora identification key available in the German-speaking countries.
1963 Franz Fukarek refines Geobotany, Plant Geography, Floristics and Palynology.
1992 Michael Succow becomes Professor of Geobotany and Landscape Ecology in Greifswald.  In 1997, he is awarded the Right Livelihood Award.
1996 Establishment of the working group ‘Peatland Studies and Palaeoecology’.
1999 Establishment of the Michael Succow Foundation and of DUENE e.V. Both organisations have a focus on mires.
2000 Hans Joosten becomes Secretary-General of the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG). The IMCG secretariat is located at the University of Greifswald.
2001 New edition of the standard text book „Landschaftsökologische Moorkunde“ (Succow & Joosten 2001).
2007 Start of the international Master’s degree course ‘Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation’ offering specialisation in Mire Ecology.
2008 Martin Wilmking (successor of Prof. Succow) expands the institute’s profile to the fields of ecosystem dynamics and forest ecology. Hans Joosten is appointed as Extraordinary Professor in Peatland Studies and Palaeoecology to strengthen peatland-related education and research in Greifswald.
2014 'Environmental Change: Responses and Adaptations' is established as the fifth research priority of Greifswald University
2015 Founding of the Greifswald Mire Centre