Belarus

Rewetting and Sustainable Management of Peatlands - A Climate Protection Project with Benefits for the Economy and Biodiversity

The protection and the sustainable use of peatland ecosystems are important goals of the international efforts toward nature conservation and climate protection. In Belarus we had the opportunity to pursue these goals on a large scale in co-operation with experienced partners.

 

Belarus is one of the leading hotspots of greenhouse gas emission from drained peatlands. The rewetting of degraded peatlands can prevent these emissions. In the course of the project we developed and tested a new methodology for the quantification of emissions from drained and restored peatlands and the trade with CO2 certificates in the voluntary carbon market.

 

This demonstration project illustrated the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the improvement of biodiversity through revitalisation and sustainable management of extensive, degraded peatlands. During the project, about 15,000 hectares of peatland were rewetted, preventing the release of ca. 100,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year. The methodology developed during this project creates a basis for the rewetting of up to 520,000 hectares of peatland in Belarus. At the same time, the proposed rewetting measures greatly reduced the risk of peat fires, which are a serious threat to the environment and to human health. Extensive training and education measures helped in expanding the Belarussian competence in the field of peatland rewetting.

 

As an additional benefit, destroyed or dead peatlands were restored to living ecosystems.

 

The project also benefits humanity in various ways. The local economy profited from implementing the measures, with long-term benefits from the ongoing management of the project sites. We examined the potential for trade with emission certificates and the sustainable, eco-friendly use of biomass from the rewetted areas, which may offer additional financial incentives.

This joint venture of the Michael Succow Foundation and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, Great Britain) was financed by the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety through the KfW development bank. Our partners in Belarus were APB-Birdlife Belarus, the environmental programme of the UN (UNDP) in Belarus, and the Ministry for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus.

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