Peatland Restoration in Russia

Restoring Peatlands in Russia – for fire prevention and climate change mitigation

More than 8% of Russia’s land area is covered by peatlands. In the past, these were drained on a large scale to gain land for agriculture, forestry, and peat extraction. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of these former peatlands fell out of use. Today, many of these now fallow areas – a total of ca. 2.75 million hectares – pose a serious fire hazard. In addition, they represent a source of greenhouse gases that result from peat mineralization caused by the drainage. In view of the devastating peatland fires of 2010, the Russian government decided to initiate the rewetting of degraded peatlands as a preventative measure, and has applied for international support for this undertaking.


An agreement signed by German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s president Dmitri Medvedev in July of 2011 lead the way for a joint Russian-German project that includes German investments for further development of technical expertise and Russian investments for the rewetting measures’ actual implementation.


The project aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from peatland drainage and peatland fires by c. 10 tons of CO2-equivalents/ha/year through climate-optimized rewetting and sustainable management of degraded peatlands in the European part of Russia. At the same time, this will lead to an increased biological diversity and reduced fire danger in these areas and will open new sources of income to the local population. In addition, the project aims at creating an improved legal and political framework for these restoration measures through a clear definition of the responsible authorities, the development of guidelines for a national greenhouse gas inventory, and the inclusion of peatland protection and rewetting into a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.


Project activities include an inventory of peatlands and prioritization of areas intended for rewetting, the rewetting of peatlands, e.g., in the Moscow Oblast, but also in other areas and establishing monitoring systems for greenhouse gases and biodiversity. Moreover, the project aims to offer advanced training measures, draw up recommendations for policy and statute revisions regarding sustainable peatland management, and develop new approaches and mechanisms for a financially and ecologically viable and sustainable peatland use.


A youtube-film in the project "Restoring Peatlands in Russia - for fire prevention and climate change mitigation" is available in English and Russian.


The project is financed by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety through KfW development bank in the framework of the International Climate Initiative (ICI). It is a joint venture of Wetlands International (Netherlands), represented locally by Wetlands International Russia, the Michael Succow Foundation and the University of Greifswald (both partners in the Greifswald Mire Centre) and, last but not least, the Institute of Forestry at the Russian Academy of Sciences. It is carried out in cooperation with the Oblasts’ responsible administrative bodies and the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.



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Project Coordination:

Jan Peters, email: jan.peters(at)


A project leaflet can be downloaded here.