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Revival of impoverished wetlands

2017-10-26

The restoration and preservation of our natural valuables – wetlands and meadows, which are important for all of Europe and which were completely impoverished due to extensive amelioration in the past – require not only environmentalist efforts but also extensive funding. Funding for this purpose is provided under the LIFE+ Programme. Twelve environmental projects were approved in Lithuania in this programme’s funding period from 2007 to 2013.

One of these projects is intended to restore Amalva and Kamanos wetlands, which are among Lithuania’s ten largest wetlands and are part of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

Amalva was the largest (3,414 ha) wetland in Suvalkija in the middle of the 20th century and boasted a rich biological diversity, which was later impoverished by amelioration. At present, there are 4 protected bird breeds of European importance: black grouse, spotted crake, corn crake and bluethroat, while during migration flocks of geese, ducks and sandpipers stop here. This wetland can only be revived if its hydrologic conditions are restored.

In the framework of the project, nearly 30 ha of private plots of land, which will be affected by the rising water level, were bought out. To restore the level of groundwater, 3.6 km of mounds will be either provided or reconstructed in the part (1,479 ha) of the wetland having the reserve status. To have the wetland restored, it is very important to appropriately use the peat soil of the dried wetland. Extensive discussions, clarifications and negotiations were therefore held with local farmers. And all these have proven productive. In collaboration with the farmers, over 40 ha of ploughed peat soil green layer were restored. In this manner the objective – the assurance of the constant presence of the green layer on the dried borders of Amalva wetland – is being achieved. The meadows and pastures in the place of arable land stop peat erosion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one half, prevent the washing away of phosphorus and nitrogen, and create very favourable conditions for preserving a number of endangered birds. To manage the wet peat-rich meadows, an agreement with a local farmer was concluded; the farmer also received 16 beef cattle.

Kamanos wetland (2,434 ha) boasts a variety of sloughs, small lakes and natural habitats. Kamanos Reserve has 9 habitats of European importance – from natural dystrophic lakes to western taiga. Some rare species, including scarce fritillary, march fritillary, northern crested newt, cypripedium calceolus, European golden plover, black grouse, Montagu’s harrier, wood sandpiper and Eurasian pygmy owl, are found here. To restore the hydrologic regime of this wetland, over 33 km of drying moats have been banked already by providing 259 dams in the territory of Kamanos State Nature Reserve (3,935 ha).

The project of restoration of the hydrologic regime of Amalva and Kamanos wetlands was launched in 2014 and will be completed in October 2018. The project is implemented by the Public Institution Natural Heritage Fund, Marijampolė Municipal Government Administration, Marijampolė State Forest Enterprise, Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve and Kamanos State Nature Reserve directorates. The budget of the project totals EUR 1.6 million, of which EUR 1.2 million account for EU support.

Public Relations Department
26 October 2017

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas