C2 Restoration of former peat extraction areas by Sphagnum mosses

Photo: Kai Vellak

Recolonisation of typical raised bog vegetation in heavily degraded areas such as former extraction fields is a very slow process and may take many decades. To fasten the vegetation re-establishment in such sites, typical bog-mosses (Sphagnums) will be planted artificially after restoration of near natural water regime.  It has been proved in other scientific research and restoration projects that Sphagnum species are pioneers for mire vegetation, and therefore fragments of bog-mosses will be planted near to blocked drainage ditches which are a starting-point of restoration activities in former peat extraction fields.

Re-introduction of Sphagnum species, that are key species in northern mires, will be implemented in the abandoned peat extraction site (area around 34 ha in total) in Sirtsi NCA. Another abandoned field in Soosaare mire (around 16 ha) has naturally regained enough vegetation cover, so there is no need for costly re-vegetation in that site.

The hydrological regime will be restored in both of these areas during projct action C1 and C3. The current dense ditch network will be closed with dams or infilling. Also levelling of the areas is planned  within current action; removal of tree cover if needed will be done by State Forest Management Centre within separate project. Sirtsi former peat mining field covers approximately 34 ha of which app 30% is still without significant vegetation. Areas which have most spare vegetation cover (in total 5 ha based on preliminary assessment) will be recolonized with Sphagnum mosses during this project action in order to speed up the vegetation recovery. Rest of the former extraction fields (29 ha in Sirtsi and 16 ha in Alam-Pedja ) are left for natural recolonisation, enchanced by waterlevel restoration (Action C1).

Also volunteers will be involved in the work if there is a need for extra manpower (Action C3).

Methodology of restoration is based on „Peatland Restoration Guide“ by F. Quinty and L. Rochefort (2003) and on „Jääksood, nende kasutamine ja korrastamine“ by J. Paal (editor) 2011 (In Estonian, “Abandoned peatlands, their use and restoration“).

It is expected that the work will be implemented in 2017 and finalised in late autumn. Still, if additional work is needed, the deadline for restoration is scheduled 31.08.2019. Additional work is decided based on monitoring of hydrological regime and regeneration success of Sphagnum species.