May 18, 2018 - The largest scientific experiment of sphagnum planting in a former peat extraction field was successfully carried out in one of the project’s LIFE REstore demo-sites in Ķemeri National park. With the help of 62 volunteers, more than 2200 kg of sphagnum moss were planted in a 4500 m2 area of a former peat extraction field which is currently classified as degraded peatland. Planting sphagnum in such a large area was unprecedented in Latvia and it was implemented by the Nature Conservation Agency in cooperation with the Latvian State Forest Institute “Silava”, the Latvian Peat Association and the association “Baltic Coasts” within the European Union LIFE programme’s project LIFE REstore.
The planting of sphagnum (specific bog moss) is a scientific experiment which will allow LIFE REstore to verify the possibility of reintroducing bog vegetation after peat extraction and to evaluate the most effective sphagnum planting approaches which can then be later used in other former peat extraction fields in Latvia if renaturalization of degraded peatland is chosen as a land re-use scenario. Potentially sphagnum planting could be carried out in area of even more than 6250 hectares – the small-sized degraded peatlands in Latvia.
Various species of sphagnum – Magelan sphagnum (Sphagnum magellanicum), brown sphagnum (Sphagnum fuscum) and red sphagnum (Sphagnum rubellum) as well as green sphagnum (Sphagnum cuspidatum) and other bog plants – were planted in different combinations in four separate fields of the demo-site. Three of the fields were prepared by removing the mineralized peat layer in advance. The planting material – 108 bags of sphagnum moss and other bog plants – was collected in cooperation with SIA “Laflora” in Drabiņi mire on the previous day.
“Although sphagnum planting is a method used worldwide for the renaturalization of degraded peatlands, it is a new method of nature management for Latvia and the LIFE REstore demo-site is the largest scientific experiment of sphagnum planting that has so far been carried out in Latvia. National parks attract millions of visitors each year and the implementation of such an innovative approach to nature management allows us to demonstrate the new methods as well as to follow the development of the experiment” says Andris Širovs, director of the Pierīga Regional Administration of the Nature Conservation Agency.
“LIFE REstore has carried out an inventarization of degraded peatlands in Latvia and it shows that there are approximately 50000 hectares of degraded peatlands in Latvia. Peat extraction is taking place in 15 000 of these hectares, another 17000 hectares of these territories have already been re-used – parts of them are flooded, meadows have been created there, or they are used for berry plantations, or in some cases – the degraded peatland has naturally forested. Yet the decisions regarding the sustainable land re-use scenarios will have to be made about both about an area of approximately 18000 hectares, where peat extraction has been discontinued and natural bog vegetation is not recovering, as well as about those territories where peat extraction is still carried out,” says Ieva Saleniece, representative of the Nature Conservation Agency, project manager of LIFE REstore.
LIFE REstore develops recommendations for the sustainable management and re-use of degraded peatlands in Latvia while balancing climate change mitigation, economical and biological diversity aspects. The recommendations will be published in the LIFE REstore manual in 2019. The sustainable management and re-use of former peat extraction fields by choosing the appropriate land re-use scenarios is significant on a national level – not only does it decreases green-house gas emissions from degraded peatlands, it also promotes employment in these regions, increases economic benefits for the land owners, and increases the biological diversity.
Renaturalization by planting bog vegetation is only one of the possible land re-use scenarios of degraded peatlands. To develop recommendations LIFE REstore analyses seven scenarios appropriate for Latvia’s conditions and, in five of the project’s demo-sites, implements and verifies the different land re-use scenarios of degraded peatlands.
Activities are implemented within the European Union LIFE program Climate Action sub-program Climate Change Mitigation priority area project “Sustainable and responsible management and re-use of degraded peatlands in Latvia” (LIFE REstore, LIFE14 CCM/LV/001103). The implementation of the project is coordinated by the Nature Conservation Agency in cooperation with the Latvian State Forest Research Institute ‘’Silava’’, the Latvian Peat Association and the association ‘’Baltic Coasts’’. More information: restore.daba.gov.lv
For more information please contact Anda Zālmane, representative of the Nature Conservation Agency, PR specialist of LIFE REstore: +371 26539348, firstname.lastname@example.org