Pilot project “Losiny Ostrov”

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The 116 km2 Losiny Ostrov National Park is the first national park of Russia established in 1983. It is located in Moscow and its outskirts, in the north-eastern edge of the city. The core forested area of the park has been protected as royal hunting grounds since the 18th century. The Park’s area also includes the Upper Yauza peatlands, which are well-known for the Mytishchi /Rostokino free-flow aqueduct built in 1780-1804 by the order of Catherine the Great. It was Moscow’s first centralized water utility. The area was used for the production of peat from the late 18th century till the 1970s. At present, there is a wetland complex consisting of small water bodies, patches of overlogged forest, channels, streams and floodplain meadows. The area features high biodiversity.

In the northern portion of this area, where peatlands used to be drained for peat extraction purposes, peat fires are a common occurrence. They pose a great risk to the Park’s wildlife and adjacent housing areas during the hotter months of summer.

Under the Restoring Peatlands in Russia Project, a pilot site for ecological rewetting will be established in this area. The plans are to restore the natural hydrological regime of floodplain peatlands and to plant willows in the brook valley of Nekhlyudov Rukav.

In order to increase the groundwater level in the valley and potentially to re-initiate peat formation, measures for water retention are to be installed.

The site will be used to demonstrate peatland rewetting techniques and to raise awareness for nature conservation and restoration.

Another pilot site for Sphagnum farming will be established in the Yegersky area of the National Park. The Sphagnum farming (cultivating peat moss on artificial floating mats for application in e.g. horticultural growing media) provides an example of the sustainable use of rewetted peatlands, so called paludiculture (www.paludiculture.com).

Both demonstration sites have been designed in cooperation with German Partners, the Michael Succow Foundation and the Institute of Botany and Landscape Biology, Greifswald University, who have acquired broad experience in testing and applying various paludiculture techniques.

The Yauza visitor and education centre established in the Losiny Ostrov National Park will provide lectures and excursions along the boardwalk trails for the visitors and hold training workshops for peatland restoration professionals.