Protecting peat bogs in Belarus

China Wetlands from UNDP on Vimeo.

This video says about itself:

UNDP Works to Restore Crucial Chinese Wetlands While Saving Livelihoods

Thousands of drainage holes scar the otherwise flawless landscape of China’s Ruoergai wetlands, constituting the single most serious threat to its high mountain peat-lands. These drainage holes have contributed to massive soil and water erosion, greatly reducing the wetlands. In fact, one lake has already shrunk by a third.

For the people in the Sichuan and Gansu Provinces who rely on these peat lands for a remarkable array of products, including fish, rice, medicinal plants, peat for fuel and garden soil, and grasses and reeds for making paper and baskets, these holes, leftover from an attempt during the 1960s to transform the region into grasslands, pose a serious threat to their livelihoods.

In an effort to prevent further peat-land loss, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been working with China’s Wetland Management Bureau and an organization called Wetlands International to restore and conserve the ecologically precious wetlands.

Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve in Wales: here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Vitally Important Peat Bogs in Belarus Receive Protection

March 2008. Research carried out by scientists from Earthwatch, the international environmental charity, has reinforced the urgent need to protect Europe’s remaining peat bogs.

Dubbed the ‘rainforests of Europe’ as they are so diverse in wildlife, peat bogs contain more than 20 per cent of the world’s carbon. However, Western Europe has lost most of its natural peat bogs, largely due to peat extraction for horticulture.

Europe’s Largest Peat Bog

Over the last three years, Earthwatch scientists have conducted the first botanical survey of Yelyna, the largest raised peat bog in Europe and a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, which stretches over 26,175 hectares. In 2002 a series of fires decimated 85 per cent of the bog, resulting in considerable economic loss for local people who rely on the harvesting of swamp cranberries.

This research led to the discovery of 17 new locations of eight rare and endangered plants at Yelyna. In response, the Belarus Ministry of Natural Resources announced the creation of a national peat bog monitoring programme that will ensure plant hotspots at Yelyna are protected.

5000 Acres Designated as Nature Sanctuaries

Two bogs, Velikiiji Moh and Fomino (equating to 5,016 hectares), have also been designated as protected nature sanctuaries as a direct result of the research. Between them, these bogs will absorb and store approximately 1,354.32 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – equivalent to the combined emissions of almost 300 London households.

Carbon Accumulations, & Emmissions.

According to figures from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, pristine bogs accumulate CO2 at a rate of 0.27 tonnes per hectare per year. Research published in November 2007 by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) combines car emissions with government figures on household CO2 levels. Households in the city of London emit 4.6 tonnes of carbon per year.

‘It is estimated that globally, peat bogs store twice as much carbon as forests,’ explains Nat Spring, Head of Research at Earthwatch (Europe). ‘Even if most people don’t know that the bogs of Belarus exist, protecting them is of vital importance if we are to combat climate change.’

Aquatic Warbler Refuge

The bogs of Belarus provide an important refuge for migratory birds as they travel between Western Europe and northern Russia, including the most threatened species of bird in Europe, the aquatic warbler.

The long-term goal of this research project is to inform the effective conservation of all of the raised bogs of Belarus. Since 2004, 90 Earthwatch volunteers have donated their time to help survey these peat lands.

March 2011: A major peatlands recovery project underway in Belarus can point the way for future similar projects in Ireland: here.

2 thoughts on “Protecting peat bogs in Belarus

  1. Pingback: Mammal films at Rotterdam festival | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Restoring peatland in Belarus | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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