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Pilot project in Belarus: Restoration of Belarusian Peatlands: Economic Opportunities and Ecologic Benefits

On 26 May 2017 press tour to pilot territories of the European Union funded and UNDP implemented “Clima-East” project took place in Biaroza and Drahicyn districts of the Brest Oblast unveiling the latest results of the project’s activities for the period of 2013-2017. The press tour focused on fighting climate change, preventing soil degradation, peat fires and floods, utilizing peatlands’ biomass in energetics and construction sectors, preserving biodiversity.

Peatlands are one of the most important ecosystems, habitat for endangered plants and animals, source of drinking water, peat and other natural resources. 

“According to our data over 65 species of animals and 22 species of plants listed in Red Book of the Republic of Belarus have been registered on the “Sporauski” peatland solely. Our projects aim to preserve and enrich local biodiversity, – said Mikhail Maksimenkov, scientific coordinator of the “Clima-East” project. – Population of the aquatic warbler grew by 1,5-2 times on the pilot territories. Populations of the double snipe, spotted eagle, European curlew and black-tailed godwit also increased”.

To ensure fen mires remains in natural conditions, as well as provide new economic opportunities the “Clima-East” project started building the infrastructure for the peatlands’ biomass usage in energetics, construction and agriculture.  The project procured specialized equipment for harvesting reed, grass and wood that will help to clean 3 500 ha of pilot territories from excessive vegetation by the end of the project. At the moment over 3 700 tons of dry vegetation have been harvested from 2 800 ha of cleaned territories. In 2016 all the equipment has been transferred to the republican biological reserve “Sporauski”.  

«Harvested wood is used actively as ecologic fuel replacing hydrocarbon feed partially as one of the main sources of carbon emission. Reed can be used in construction for roofing, grass haylage may serve as cattle food, – marked Vladimir Koltunov, “Clima-East” project manager. – These economic opportunities of peatlands management have long-term potential in comparison with peat extraction promoting eco-friendly approach to the environment.  By the way in Poland and Germany peatland biomass is widely used in energetics”.

The “Clima-East” project conducted a controlled burning of dry vegetation on the territory of 5 000 ha of the “Zvaniec” reserve for the first time in the Republic of Belarus, developed the list of its implementation conditions and requirements. This technology allows to clean hardly accessible  for the equipment large areas of fen mires from excessive vegetation.

“Clima-East” also constructed and repaired water-regulating facilities and crossings for the equipment at the “Zvaniec” reserve. Besides securing easy access for the equipment to harvest dry vegetation, the main function of those facilities is to control and regulate level of water in prevention of peat floods and fires.