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UNDP/GEF Project Embarks on the Osveiskoye Peatland Rehabilitation

In January 2009, rehabilitation of the degraded peatland Osveiskoye started in Verhnedvinsk district of Vitebsk region. The area hydrological regime is to be restored through cascade damming by a drainage network. The works are to be completed within three months. The project presupposes construction of 11 dams and creation of a system of shallow reservoirs with regulated water depth.

According to Olga Chabrovskaya, manager of the UNDP/GEF project on rehabilitation and sustainable management of peatlands in Belarus, Osveiskoye is the seventh peatland in Belarus and the first one in Vitebskregion to be rehabilitated under the initiative. The rehabilitation area is 4,519 ha.

The Osveiskoye peatland draining started back in early 20th century, and the peat tract was drained from 1929. During 30 years, from 1971 through 2001, peat was intensively extracted in the area. In 2005, the degraded peatland was transferred to Verhnedvinsky Forestry. The years of peat extraction did affect the hydrological regime, peatland eco–system and adjacent territories. The continuous draining of the peatland area resulted in disappearance or reduction of hydrophilous flora and fauna species.

The high Osveiskoye peatland is a unique habitat for large group of rare species of animals and plants inscribed on the Red Book of Belarus. Bog cranberries, cloudberries, rare–flowered sedge, alpine club–rush are found here. The area is inhabited by ca. 30 species of mammals and 20 species of birds many of whom enjoy the national protection status. Meanwhile, sinking of the ground water level in the peatland and the adjacent LakeOsveiskoyehas caused frequent peat fires.

“Rehabilitation of the Osveiskoye peatland hydrological regime will help stabilize and improve the habitat of a large group of valuable animals and plants, reduce the incidence of fires and carbon emissions as a result of the peat layer mineralization”, said Olga Chabrovskaya. “Besides, this process will have a positive impact on the development of the area potential, and will lead to formation of hunting and fishing lands attractive for eco–tourism”.

The works are performed under the UNDP/GEF project “Renaturalization and Sustainable Management of Peatlands in Belarus to Combat Land Degradation, Ensure Conservation of Globally Valuable Biodiversity, and Mitigate Climate Change”. The Ministry of Forestry of Belarus is the National Implementing Agency of the project.

For additional information please refer to project PR manager, Alexei Tchistodarski, at (017) 294–90–69.


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