New method of bog restoration being tested in Pärnu County 10.09

The State Forest Management Centre (RMK), in collaboration with the University of Tartu, is testing the mechanised sowing of peat moss for bog restoration. This novel method of bog restoration has not been used in Estonia before. One of the testing sites is a former peat mining area in the village of Maima in Põhja-Pärnumaa municipality.

In total, there is 9000 hectares of abandoned peat mining land (known as cut-over peatland) in Estonia. These areas are extremely flammable, as there are no plants and the ground is desert-dry. In order to activate natural regenerative processes in these areas, RMK is working with the University of Tartu to test different bog restoration methods.

"In Estonia, sowing peat moss has only been in a few small areas before, and only by hand,” said RMK Nature Protection Specialist Ants Animägi. “But now, taking our lead from Canada, we’re testing the mechanised sowing of peat moss for the first time to activate the natural process of peat moss regeneration. The machine will evenly lay hand-sized pieces of peat moss, which will then be covered with straw to maintain their moisture. After that, the water level in the area will be raised enough for the peat moss to start growing."

To evaluate the effectiveness of different methods, the cut-over peatland in Maima has been divided into 15 sections, of which 12 are being used to test various methods and three as control sites where no restoration work is being done. As a result, valuable information should be obtained on which methods of bog restoration to favour in the future.

According to Animägi, restoration of cut-over peatland is important for a number of reasons. "By raising the water level, we're able to reduce the risk of fires in the area,” he explained. “Bogs are ecosystems that contain huge amounts of carbon. Cut-over peatland with low water levels and no flora release around two tonnes of carbon every year, which accelerates global warming.Because we create favourable conditions for the growth of peat moss and the regeneration of flora and fauna typical of the bog through the restoration work, the bog will be able to bind carbon again. Bogs are also habitats for lots of rare plant and animal species, including orchids, the willow ptarmigan and the golden eagle."

The restoration work in Maima, covering 70 hectares in total, is being carried out by Tekamer OÜ, the winner of the procurement RMK launched for the project. The project was drafted by the engineering company OÜ Inseneribüroo STEIGER. 85% of the project is being financed from the European Union Cohesion Fund.

Bog restoration in Estonia began 10 years ago. By the end of this year, 12,500 hectares of bog and forested bog will have been restored, which amounts to more land than the total area of the island of Vormsi. RMK has led the restoration of around 1000 hectares of former mining areas and quarries, most notably the Viru and Hara cut-over peatlands in Lahemaa National Park, the Laiuse cut-over peatland in Jõgeva County, the Määvli cut-over peatland in Hiiu County and the Arramäe cut-over peatland in Põlva County.

You can view photos and read the story of the restoration of the Maima cut-over peatland on the RMK blog.

Additional information:
Ants Animägi
Nature Protection Specialist, RMK
+372 51 16 458

Sille Ader
Head of Communications Department, RMK
+372 5666 5896