Meschera National Park: Education and awareness activities

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Case study

The Meschera National Park is located in the southwestern part of the Vladimir Province and occupies the lowest portion of the Meschera Lowland. The landmark of the Park is its unique peatland massifs covering over 23,000 ha and possessing the three types of peatland: eutrophic (fens), mesotrophic (transitional mires), and oligotrophic (raised bogs).The peatland massifs can be divided to two groups: natural and managed. Intact natural peatlands cover over 8,000 ha, with most of them situated within the strictly protected core zone of the Park.

Throughout the 20th century, the Meschera peatlands were intensively used for peat extraction. Over 60% of peatland area was drained. Large-scale peat production in the area now occupied by the Park started in 1918. Sodding, hydraulic extraction, and milling methods were used. In the early 1990s, the peat production sites were abandoned with no rehabilitation provided.

Since 2002, the area became a testing ground for peatland restoration techniques. Rewetting activities on drained peatlands began in 2003. Portions of six peatland massifs in the Meschera National Park were restored: Tasin-Borsky, Ostrovsky, Orlovsky, Baksheyevsky, Garinsky, and Kondrova.

In 2015, peatland restoration activities continued using the methodology of ecological restoration. A range of work was carried out to restore natural hydrological regimes in parts of the Orlovsky and Ostrovsky peatland massifs (1,000 ha restored). Presently, the total area of restored peatlands in the Meschera Park has reached 7,392 ha.

Sharing knowledge and experience in the restoration and conservation of peatland ecosystems and raising awareness of peatland values among local population are the key activity alleys of the Park’s staff. The ‘Wetlands of Meschera’ educational programme was developed for children. It provides classes for schoolchildren of all ages, excursions to peatlands, and field studies. The Meschera Wetland Centre and a walking trail were established in the National Park in 2013. This educational centre became a member of the Wetland Link International network of wetland centers.

​The plot was fenced and surrounded by a canal where six dams of various types were constructed. Boardwalks were built along the canal.

Seven information stands were set up on the plot, with an overflow pipe with a water lock installed in its centre. A plan of excursions around the demonstration plot was developed.

Activities on the development of a demonstration plot to present the best peatland restoration practices were carried out under the Project in 2015. Since the beginning of summer 2016, expert-guided excursions have been carried out around the demonstration plot for the Park visitors.

The following information materials were published under the Project:

A set of postcards about the Park’s peatlands (1500 sets).

Booklet on "Peatland restoration in the Meschera National Park" (1000 copies)

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Leaflet about the demonstration plot "Ecological methods of peatland restoration" (1500 copies)

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Information on peatlands and peatland restoration practices was published in the printed and electronic mass media (list of publications)

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