Demonstration of paludiculture and education for low carbon sustainable wetland use

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Case study

An experimental plot for demonstrating low-carbon wet agriculture opportunities was established on the territory of the Russian State Agrarian University –K.A. Timiryazev Agricultural Academy in Moscow in 2018–2019.

This work was funded by the International Investment Bank.

The cultivation of hydrophilous plants in waterlogged lands is presently considered a promising approach for the development of climate-smart agriculture in human-induced areas, especially on urban land, sod-podzolic and peat soils. The application of such techniques results in the reduction of GHG emissions into the atmosphere, stabilization of soil carbon stock, and regulation of hydrological regime over extensive populated areas. Thus, waterlogged lands, being the most difficult for traditional agriculture uses, not only continue to provide ecosystem services and support biodiversity, but also produce economic benefits. The cultivated hydrophilous plants feature high productivity of biomass that is useful for various applications: as fuel and raw material, food, fodder and medicine.

This project brought together stakeholders and experts from Belarus, Germany, Italy, Latvia, the Kaluga, Nizhny Novgorod, Ryazan, Tver and Vladimir Provinces of Russia, Wetlands International, Moscow University, RAS Institute of Forest Science, Universities of MGIMO and RUDN and other educational institutions to stimulate conversation about the productive use of wet and rewetted lands and particularly about the challenges of designing a demonstration site in the city of Moscow. The discussions held during the Round Table on Climate Smart Agriculture allowed us to find effective methods for regulating water regime at the plot, select plant species, organize ecosystem monitoring and establish a walking trail so that various visitor groups could be guided around the site practically all year round.

The site preparation activities were performed by students of the Timiryazev Academy and participants of the MOSES summer ecological school. They removed garbage and weed vegetation from the 1.14 ha plot, adjacent areas and old drainage ditches, planted willow seedlings (Purple Willow Salix purpurea and Black Willow Salix nigra) and sowed the seeds of buckwheat Polygonum sachalinense. A walking trail equipped with information boards has been designed to provide access to the plot.

The demonstration site has already been used for field-based studies and individual research projects by the Academy’s students and research staff. Monitoring studies of soil quality and vegetation, water and greenhouse gas fluxes are also conducted in order to quantify and promote climate-impact improvements.

Further activities will include the installation of demonstration facilities and infrastructure, and organization of excursions for wider public, stakeholders and potential investors in green projects.