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Pilot Project in Komi and NAO: Pilot permafrost peat ecosystem restoration activities

In the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, activities on the environmental restoration of disturbed lands continue to be carried out within the framework of the implementation of the Component “Conservation of carbon pools of forest and marsh ecosystems in the permafrost zone of the Republic of Komi and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug”, UNDP/GEF project “Strengthening Protected Area System of the Komi Republic to Conserve Virgin Forest Biodiversity in the Pechora River Headwaters Region”. This work has been performed within the framework of the EU ClimaEast Programme. In 2015, the practical implementation of environmental restoration methods started in some pilot sites, after a baseline survey had been conducted, an environmental restoration concept had been formulated, an integrated engineering survey had been conducted, and environmental restoration projects had been developed. 

This is the initial experience of carrying out environmental restoration activities in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug; firstly, such methods of restoration have not been used before; secondly, experts in the field of restoration have never had such experience. It was important at preliminary stages to take into account natural and climatic characteristics of the territory, including the pattern of different types of soil and vegetation cover disturbances, and adapt the existing environmental restoration techniques to our conditions. A relatively short warm period in northern latitudes does not make it possible to carry out environmental restoration activities and evaluate the success of the applied methods during one season. Therefore, it was possible to assess the success of the activities carried out in 2015 only in the subsequent year. 

During the summer and autumn of 2016, surveys were conducted at the restoration site Shapkina. A group of experts visited the site and studied the results of the use of adapted methods of environmental restoration. They noted the success of most of the methods used. Some of them needed small adjustments regarding the restoration of flood-affected structures, additional levelling of terraces, and some other minor alterations.

The success of the adapted methods of environmental restoration used at the Shapkina site has confirmed that these approaches to the restoration of disturbed lands are correctly selected approaches. This success has been further developed at other sites selected for environmental restoration: Kumzha, Dyuny and Zimnik. During the summer and autumn of 2016, environmental restoration projects were developed for these sites, and practical environmental restoration activities were carried out.

After practical environmental restoration activities had been completed, monitoring sites were created at each of the pilot sites to implement a system of long-term monitoring of the progress of the restoration of structural and functional characteristics of the ecosystems where environmental restoration activities had been carried out. The summer season of 2017 will demonstrate the results of our work. 

Positive results of environmental restoration activities carried out in pilot sites are very important for making such innovative restoration techniques part of the land use practice in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. We hope to be able to present relevant convincing arguments to demonstrate the possibility of using such adapted methods of environmental restoration in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug and their viability.