Alam-Pedja nature conservation area – Soosaare mire
Alam-Pedja nature conservation area (NCA) is located in Central Estonia northeast of Lake Võrtsjärv, in a lowland area called the Võrtsjärv Basin. About 7500 to 10 000 years ago most of the current grassland, mire and forest areas were covered with water. The nature reserve is largely a wetland, including a complex of five large mires, swamp forests, and floodplains of the large rivers (Emajõgi, Põltsamaa and Pedja). There are 12 natural water bodies within the area with a combined lenght of 141 km. Wetlands cover 82% of the nature reserve’s territory.
Alam-Pedja nature conservation area (NCA) is recognized as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention (1997) and since 2004 it is a designated Natura 2000 site and covers 34 490 ha. The reserve was established in February 1994, Soosaare mire was incorporated into the NCA in 01.04.2010.
Soosaare mire was inventoried in 1997 by ELF mires inventory (Paal and Leibak 2011) covering nearly 1300 ha. Following classification of the Estonian vegetation site types (extract from Paal, 1997) the area is determined as hummock bog site type, hollow-ridge bog site type, and pool-ridge bog site type.
The project area is former peat extraction field with very deep and dense drainage network, area of app. 120 ha is severely damaged by these activities. Peat extraction started already in 19th of century and consists of holes and larger areas along sloping edge of the mire. Contemporary peat mining area was established in 1970s and its impact on the surrounding area is more significant. The mining activities were abandoned in the beginning of 1990s and since then the water regime has not been restored and mire vegetation is partly disappeared or damaged and some of the area is overgrowing with trees. Preliminary restoration plan was completed by ELF in 2012 and is basis for further planning of restoration activities.
Existing deep ditches influence wider area compared to ordinary ditches and therefore their closure is of higher priority. Vegetation is somewhat regrown since ending of peat extraction (20 – 30 years ago) but far from natural habitat 7110*. Restoration of water level and probable forest manipulation will boost significantly revegetation and finally recovery of this site back to original 7110* habitat.
Paal, J. 1997. Eesti taimkatte kasvukohatüüpide klassifikatsioon. Eesti keskkonnaministeerium, ÜRO keskkonnaprogramm. Tallinn. /in Estonian/
Paal, J., Leibak, E. 2011. Estonian Mires: Inventory of Habitats. Tartu.