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LIFE REstore - Sustainable and responsible management and re-use of degraded peatlands in Latvia

LIFE14 CCM/LV/001103


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Contact details:

Project Manager: Kaspars Paberzs
Email: kaspars.paberzs@daba.gov.lv



Project description:

Background

Peatland drainage was carried out in Latvia throughout the Soviet era, up to the 1990s. This contributed to the degradation of natural ecosystems and resulted in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from areas that previously stored large amounts of carbon (carbon sinks). According to unofficial studies, in 1991, there were about 55 000 ha of peat extraction fields in various stages of exploitation in Latvia. Currently, peat extraction licences are issued for about 25 000 ha, with areas where activities have not been carried out for at least 20 years forming an additional 20 000 ha. A general lowering of the water table prevents the natural re-vegetation of these areas. Appropriate, sustainable, and integrated management of these peatlands is therefore required to protect ecosystem services and further reduce GHG emissions.


Objectives

The main objectives of the LIFE Restore project were to develop a methodology to quantify GHG emissions from managed wetlands in Latvia, in accordance with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines for national GHG inventories; to perform an inventory and develop a database for degraded peatlands in Latvia; to developa decision-support tool for land re-use planning in degraded peatland areas that balances ecological restoration for biodiversity with economic benefits and GHG emission reductions; and to support policymakers, by providing a strategic framework for implementing sustainable re-use of degraded peatlands within the National Peat Strategy.


Results

The LIFE REstore project established a decision-support system for responsible and sustainable re-use and management of degraded peatland in Latvia.

The beneficiaries, coordinated by Latvias Nature Conservation Agency (NCA):

  • Developed an optimisation model as the basis for a decision-making support tool for planning of degraded peatlands' use after peat extraction;
  • Developed national greenhouse gas (GHG) emission factors for raised bog and transition mire peat soils, and certain agricultural peat soils;
  • Conducted economic evaluations of ecosystem services provided by peatland in demonstration sites;
  • Produced an inventory of degraded peatlands over an area of 50 000 ha affected by peat extraction, which has resulted in an open-access database; and
  • Prepared and submitted recommendations for re-cultivation of degraded peatlands to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development.

The most notable effects on climate policy planning are related to the elaboration of national GHG emission factors (EFs) and the measurement methodology for peat soils. The recommendations for degraded peatlands submitted to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development are being integrated into the National Peat Strategy.

LIFE REstore contributed to improving the knowledge base for the quantitative assessment, monitoring, projections and implementation of climate change mitigation measures in the management of organic soils in former peat extraction sites. The project enhanced the capacity of national authorities to apply this knowledge in practice for the planning and management of sites with organic soils.

The coordinating beneficiary also reported some unexpected climate policy-related findings. The most significant of these was the considerable difference between the default IPCC 2013 EFs and measurements based on nitrous oxide (N2O) EFs in cropland and grassland. It was found in the project that the currently applied EFs lead to double accounting of N2O emissions due to fertilisation. The results also demonstrated the huge climate change mitigation potential of converting cropland to grassland because of the decrease of N2O emissions from the soil. Land-use change scenarios were conducted at the demonstration sites. Long-term environmental benefits are expected where re-naturalisation is applied as the re-cultivation scenario in the degraded peatlands. Since, according to the optimisation model, 96% of the degraded peatland areas are suitable for re-naturalisation, the potential for long-term environmental benefits and positive impact on biodiversity is very high. However, it should be noted that re-use scenarios that generate the most economic benefits would not create any beneficial impact on biodiversity. At the same time, based on the GHG measurement results, afforestation, and fruit and berry farming (e.g. cranberry, blueberry), would lead to the most significant CO2 emission reduction. The project has considerable transferability and replication potential in Nordic and Baltic region, and also elsewhere in the temperate climate region in Europe, through the adaptation of climate change mitigation measures implemented in the demonstration sites, and the further development of EFs covering different climatic and management conditions.

The projects decision-support tool and planning re-cultivation activities can generate economic benefits, given the 18 000 ha of abandoned peat-extraction land in Latvia. Optimisation model calculations showed that blueberry farming, though requiring the highest financial investment, produced the best financial return over a 10-year period (approximately 900 000). Leaving peat-extraction land abandoned results in lost economic potential.

Socio-economic evaluations showed that afforestation would produce the greatest decrease in GHG emissions, while re-naturalisation of peatlands would hypothetically provide the highest value of ecosystem services over a 10-year period (approximately 10 million).

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication plan (see "Read more" section).


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Environmental issues addressed:

Themes

Habitats - Freshwater


Keywords

decision making support‚  wetland‚  management plan‚  restoration measure‚  greenhouse gas accounting


Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...
  • Climate Change & Energy efficicency
  • Directive 2009/31 - Geological storage of carbon dioxide and amending Directives 85/337/EEC, 2000 ...
  • Decision 529/2013 - Accounting rules on greenhouse gas emissions and removals resulting from acti ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable


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Beneficiaries:

Coordinator Nature Conservation Agency
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description Latvia’s Nature Conservation Agency (NCA) is responsible for managing the country’s protected areas, which include 334 Natura 2000 network sites. The NCA oversees planning and scientific research in protected areas, through collaborations with local authorities, the tourism sector, NGOs and education institutions.

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Project reference LIFE14 CCM/LV/001103
Duration 01-SEP-2015 to 30-AUG -2019
Total budget 1,828,318.00 €
EU contribution 1,096,990.00 €
Project location Kurzeme(Latvia Latvija) Latgale(Latvia Latvija) Riga(Latvia Latvija) Pieriga(Latvia Latvija) Vidzeme(Latvia Latvija) Zemgale(Latvia Latvija) Extra-Regio(Latvia Latvija) Associated Latvia (LV)(Latvia Latvija)

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Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Project web site - 2 Project's Twitter page
Project web site - 2 Project's Facebook page
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Book "LIFE RESTORE PROJECT-INTERNATIONAL CLOSING CONFER ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "SUSTAINABLE AND RESPONSIBLE AFTER-USE OF PEAT EXT ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Layman report Layman report (Latvian version)
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Video link "LIFE REstore degradtu kdrju ilgtspjgas apsaimniekoanas optimizcijas modelis" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gdCcW5lF9k&feature=youtu.be)
Video link Par LIFE REstore projektu (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-wwnSEEFMU&t=24s)

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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version