The International Peat Society was founded in 1968 (a year with many other important events!) and is therefore celebreating its 50th anniversary very soon. Do you know what we are doing and why it is worth to be a member? Do you remember how IPS works? We asked our recently employed Office Assistant Sandra Lubinaite to explain from a young expert’s point of view:
Who are we?
For all members of the International Peat Society, new and old, active and silent ones, we have decided to refresh your understanding of what the IPS is all about.
In a nutshell, IPS is an international organization of corporate and individual members dedicated to the responsible management and Wise Use of peatlands and peat. In practice this means that we provide a platform for various interest groups to share and discuss peat and peatland related information. IPS‘ mission is thus to:
- Foster information exchange, education and dialogue
- Serve all those interested in peat and peatlands including the scientific, industrial and commercial, and regulatory communities
- Organize regular conferences, meetings and symposia on all peat-related matters
- Provide newest and most relevant information related to peat and peatlands
All of the members have direct access to the IPS database where they can find all the latest information related to peatlands, network with other IPS members, dowload publications and share other information. In addition, there are numerous local activities available, much of them also in your own language.
The IPS is respecting the social, economic and environmental aspects of peat and peatlands and is therefore unique in being the largest and widest peat expert network worldwide.
Who are our members?
The IPS has a very diverse membership structure including corporate, institute, individual and student members. Their share varies according to the structure of its National Committees, but in general there is a ratio of about 30% companies, 30% universities and 30% individual persons. Currently we have more than 1,400 members in 42 countries, and contacts to various important stakeholders interested in peat-related matters. Our members are interested, for example, in peatlands in agricultural and forestry use, peat properties for different applications, the use of peat in horticulture and for energy and heat production, and of course also in peatland conservation and their restoration as important habitats.
How do we operate?
The hands and feet of the organization are the eighteen IPS National Committees. These are local associations that have received authorization to represent IPS in their own country. They have some 10-400 members with the largest organizations in Finland and Germany at the moment. The contact details of the National Committees can be found at http://www.peatsociety.org/about-us/national-committees.
Each National Committee has voting rights through the Annual Assembly of National Representatives, and every 2-4 years the Assembly elects members to the Executive Board, which is the major implementing body of the IPS. Basically the Executive Board represents all active member countries and reflects the general structure of the IPS with regard to the professional and geographical background of its members. The EB meets at least 3-4 times a year to decide on all major undertakings of the Society.
The EB also appoints the Secretary General that manages the IPS Secretariat’s day-to-day operations with its permanent 1-2 person staff and reports his/her activities directly to the Board. The IPS Secretariat is located in Jyväskylä, Finland.
In addition to the National Committees, there are ten IPS Commissions, which act as subject groups within specific fields and organise many of the practical IPS activities in truly international cooperation, including special symposia, meetings and workshops.
For example, very active Commissions currently are the Commission II – Utilisation of peat and peatlands for horticulture, energy and other economic purposes, Commission V – Restoration, rehabilitation and after-use of peatlands, and Commission VI – Peat balneology, medicine and therapeutics.
In addition, working groups have been established to plan and conduct on-going projects. As an IPS member you can sign up for the Commissions‘ mailing lists at http://bit.ly/16mIKvc. Their contact names, addresses and latest annual reports are listed at http://www.peatsociety.org/about-us/commissions.
The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) consists of the IPS Commission Chairs and the 2nd Vice President of the IPS. It provides the Society with advice and information on matters of scientific, technical and cultural importance, drawing upon the pool of knowledge available in the Commissions and elsewhere and promoting and disseminating research results. The SAB elects its Chair and Secretary each year and meets normally twice a year in association with other IPS meetings and reports to the Executive Board and Annual Assembly.
What do we do?
One of the main responsibilities of the IPS is to organize various events for peat and peatland related information exchange and to enable its members to meet each other face-to-face.
The most important conference is the International Peat Congress that is organized every 4 years, for instance next in Kuching, Malaysia in 2016. Furthermore, the IPS organizes some 20-30 workshops, symposia and other conferences for our members under its own name, with cooperation partners or through the local National Commitees every year.
In addition to holding events, IPS also monitors news, scientific publications, international conventions and the global media, and provides its members with the newest and most relevant information concerning peat and peatlands. This is done at the IPS Secretariat and locally by our partners.
The latest and most relevant information is distributed monthly via the email newsletter Peat News. In addition, members receive our magazine Peatlands International, which contains longer reports and articles on peat and peatlands, reviews of conferences and books, research findings, business reports, internal information on the IPS and much more. You are very welcome to contribute as an author to these.
In addition, IPS publishes proceedings of its conferences and is a partner with the International Mire Conservation Group for publication of the scientific journal Mires and Peat. IPS has published itself important research findings and policy reports, e.g. the books “Peatlands and Climate Change”, “Wise Use of Peatlands” and the “Strategy for Reponsible Peatland Management”. IPS also has a small internal library in the Secretariat office in Jyväskylä, Finland, which resources are available to all the members during the office hours or digitally.
We are currently uploading the proceedings from the IPS Congresses and conferences as well as other publications to our online document database, and more digitalized materials are on the way. In addition, a large selection of printed books, proceedings and magazines are available for purchasing at our online shop, http://www.peatsociety.org/shop.
IPS is also constantly sharing information on own and related activities, press releases and conference announcements on its Facebook and LinkedIn pages, almost real-time. Like and follow us on these social media platforms: fb.com/peatsociety for your private and linkd.in/peatsociety for your professional networks.
How are we financed?
IPS collects its annual membership fees mainly through the 18 National Committees. In addition, the Society charges fees from its member associations and corporate members.
Members from countries without a National Committee can join individually and pay € 49/year as an individual member, € 24/year as student or € 295/year (2013) as an institutional or corporate member directly to the IPS Secretariat. The total budget of the IPS amounts to approximately € 150,000 annually.
In addition, we receive income from conference registration fees and advertisements, but additional contributions are of course always welcome and further input for e.g. project work is being actively sought. More information of our budget, members and activities can be found in the Annual Reports at http://www.peatsociety.org/about-us.
How do I benefit?
As an IPS member you can benefit from all of the following plus the activities of your National Committee or other local assocations:
- Full access to the membership database at the IPS website (members who have opened their information to be shared with other members)
- Magazine Peatlands International and monthly newsletter Peat News
- Significant discounts for IPS and partner conferences, events and excursions
- Access to the scientific journal Mires and Peat
- Network opportunities and contacts with more than 1,400 industry and science representatives in 42 countries in Europe, Canada, the United States & Southeast Asia
- Fact-based information on peat and peatland-related developments locally and internationally
IPS is an independent international organisation that balances the interests of different stakeholders dealing with peatland, peat and related matters. Our task is to provide you and your colleagues with a platform for open discussions and sharing of information and opinions. You are welcome to participate!
We highly appreciate your feedback and ideas on how to further improve our activities. Thank you for your cooperation and support.
IPS Office Assistant