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Restoration of the South-Western part of Aukštumala Raised Bog (2021)

PROJECT DURATION

2021

THE PROJECT IS FINANCED

 

The total value of the project is 36 000 €.

Stiftung Zukunft Jetzt!

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The aim of the project is to improve the ecological status of habitats of European importance in the South-Western part of the Aukštumala Telmological Reserve and to reduce GHG emissions from the drained peatland.

 

Project objectives:

  • restoration of the hydrological regime of the south-western part of the Aukštumala Telmological Reserve; 

  • preparation and approval of a simplified draft;

  • biodiversity research and hydrological monitoring;

  • implementation of hydrological restoration.

 

Raised bog

The peatland is located in the northern part of the Nemunas delta (Šilutė district) between Krokų Lanka Lake and the Rivers Tenenis and Minija. It is one of the few Lithuanian peatlands with an area of more than 1000 ha. XX a. pr. The Aukštumala raised bog became known to peatland researchers all over the world as it became the first raised bog in the world to be studied in detail and described in a monography (Weber, 1902). At that time, the Aukštumala raised bog, like all Nemunas Delta, belonged to East Prussia, whose government in the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century, it initiated the cultivation of the Aukštumala raised bog, i.e. drainage and preparation for peat mining. Peat mining in the eastern part of the peatland, which has been going on for almost 140 years, is having a negative effect on the western unused part of the bog. It is declared the Aukštumala Telmological Reserve (1285 ha).

 

The first restoration works of the Aukštumala raised bog were started in 2006. By the initiative of the scientists from the Institute of Botany (since 2010 - the Institute of Botany of the Nature Research Centre) and the management of JSC Šilutės durpės (later - JSC Klasmann-Deilmann Šilutė) it is planned to reduce the negative impact of peat mining on the Aukštumala Telmological Reserve. In order to achieve the goal, an original experimental measure isolating the raised bog (reducing water loss) was installed in the 1 km long section in the contact zone between the peat bog and the surviving part of the bog.

 

At the initiative of the Wetlands Research Group of the Lithuanian Fund for Nature, the ecological restoration works in the Aukštumala Telmological Reserve were continued in 2014–2017, implementing the LIFE program project Restoration of the Aukštumala Upland Marsh in the Nemunas Delta Regional Park (LIFE Aukstumala LIFE12 NAT/LT/000965). During the project, more than 1200 water retention dams of various designs were installed.

 

The problem: until 2021. In the south-western part of the Aukštumala raised bog (53 ha), due to lack of funds, no nature management and hydrological restoration works were carried out. The territory is separated from the main massif of Aukštumala bog by the road Šilutė–Kintai. The network of old drainage ditches is still in operation today, so the typical wetland vegetation in this drained part of the raised bog gives way to forest communities. However, despite many years of drainage, two types of habitats of European Community importance are found here: 7110 *Active raised bog and 7120 Degraded raised bog. During the research, two new habitats of a very rare plant Erica tetralix were discovered. This gives hope that the restoration of a hydrological regime favorable to the raised bog ecosystem will not only improve the condition of habitats of European Community importance, but also reduce the peatland process and reduce GHG emissions.

 

During the project, it is planned to install 250 dams of various constructions and 130 m long water-retaining dams.

Project implementation moments:

Jūratė Sendžikaitė and Nerijus Zableckis  pictures