Restoration of Belarusian Peatlands: Economic Opportunities and Ecologic Benefits

May 29, 2017

On 26 May 2017 a press tour to pilot territories of the European Union funded and UNDP implemented “Clima-East” project and the UNDP-GEF “Peatlands-2” project took place in Biaroza and Drahicyn districts of the Brest Oblast unveiling the latest results of the projects’ activities for the period of 2013-2017. The press tour focused on fighting the 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. To guarantee the provision of Zvaniec with clear water, the “Peatlands-2” project built a settling pond to clean the reclamation canals’ run-offs from chemicals and organic pollutants. 

The development of the Strategy of Preserving and Sustainable Management of Peatlands became one of the main results of the “Peatlands-2” project.

‘’Consequences of the large scale reclamation of peatlands in 60-80’s, often implemented regardless of economic needs and ecologic impact of the process, are relevant to Belarus these days. The creation of the national Strategy is an important step towards reasonable and effective longterm use of Belarusian natural  resources that promotes balanced approach to peatlands management from ecologic and economic perspectives’’, — said ‘’Peatlands-2’’ project manager Aliaksei Artsiusheuski. 

The project also supported preparation of the documents for registration of 11 new wetland reserves of local significance on the territory of 28,5 ha in total.

‘’Peatlands-2’’ has also completed mire formation on the territory of 14 ha of innings. To prevent soil degradation 213 ha were afforested with black alder for the purpose of sustainable forestry in Lida district of Hrodna Oblast; in Biaroza district of Brest Oblast 490 ha of plowed field were turned into perennial meadows with agricultural purpose.  

In twenty years, the accumulative effect of the projects implementation will lead to carbon emission decrease by over 2 mln tons in CO2-equivalent.

“Clima-East: Conservation and sustainable management of peatlands in Belarus to minimize carbon emissions and help ecosystems to adapt to climate change, while contributing to the overall mitigation and adaptation effort” (“Clima-East”) project is funded by the European Union and implemented by United Nations Development Programme.

“Landscape Approach to Management of Peatlands Aiming at Multiple Ecological Benefits” (“Peatlands-2”) project is funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by United Nations Development Programme.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus is the national implementing partner.

Press Contacts:

For further details or with interview requests for media please contact the press office of the United Nations Development Programme: press.office.by@undp.org, + 375 17 327 48 76.