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2015-10-01
Discussion on practical solutions in restoration of mire ecosystems
 
At the end of September, nearly 40 participants visited the seminar-discussion “Restoration of mire habitats: experiences and solutions for Latvia” organized by NAT-PROGRAMME project team. The participants were represented by habitat experts, practitioners, NGOs, scientific institutions and other LIFE project teams. The purpose of the seminar was to bring together expert and to vsit several mire sites, where habitat restoration or other management has been applied and to discuss the selected management measures from different points of view. The emphasis was put on practical solutions applicable in similar situations. The opinions and experiences shared during the seminar will be incorporated in the restoration guidelines developed by NAT PROGRAMME.
 
Within the seminar, the participants visited Skalu Bog, where the pines were recently cleared in 5 ha to improve the habitat for birds typical for intact open bog landscapes, e. g. Tringa glareola and Pluvialis apricaria. The introduction to the site and measures applied was given by M. Kalniņš, an expert from JSC “Latvian State Forests”. The participants shared opinions from different perspectives. Overall, this case was acknowledged as a good example, which provides practical experience for future, though also alternative solutions were suggested (removal of  cleared pines, burning of the cleared pines). Taking the visited site as an example, different scenarios were discussed, both passive protection and restoration management in similar situations and their impacts to bog bird communities and bog ecosystem.
 
The next stop was Vārnēnu (Ķiguļu) Mire, a cut-away bog where in > 80 ha peat was extracted 4050 years ago. The peat was not extraced down to the mineral ground, at least 2 m of sphagnum peat was left. Since abandonment, no management in most of the area was applied, the drainage system still functions. Only in a small proportion of the area, perhaps a former bog hollow, sphagnum layer and vegetation similar to intact bogs has spontaneously recovered. The rest of the area represent typical conditions for abandoned, unrestored cut-away bogs: the area has  overgrown with heather, cottongrass and scattered pines indicating heavy drainage impacts. Part of the cut-away bog is used as cranberry plantation. A. Eglītis, the land owner, introduced to the situation, history of the site and his experience in cranberry cultivation as one of the potential after-uses of cut-away peatlands to diminish CO2 emissions from mineralized peat. The experts discussed possible after-use solutions for similar sites including possibilities to restore a bog ecosystem, interpretation of bog habitat types in such sites and other questions.
 
At the end of the day, the seminar participants visited one of the NAT-PROGRAMME experimental mire restoration sites – a spring fen near Cēsis. In 2013, in the partly overgrown spring fen the shrub and tree layer was manually cleared and removed from the site. In the next two years, the reed and other herbs were manually mowed and collected from the ground. The participants discussed the purposes of this type of habitat management and potential outcomes, practical aspects of the management and other potential solutions. The experts acknowledged that  similar management could be successfully applied in similar situations in Latvia where invasion of reed and shrubs might cause decline or even extinction of rare plant species specific for open spring fens. At this site, regular monitoring is established. After some years, the monitoring results might provide deeper insight in the outcome of the management impacts, thus helping to assess not only the management results, but also to define the target conditions.
 
NAT-PROGRAMME teams thanks all participants for sharing experiences and opinions, especially M. Kalniņš and A. Eglītis. The ideas summarized within the seminar will be used in development of the restoration guidelines for mire habitats.





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