Pilot project “Mokhovoye-2”

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Case study

The Mokhovoye-2 peatland is a raised bog located in the Konakovo district of the Tver Province, covering an area of 2318 ha to zero peat depth. Large-scale industrial development of the peatland took place from the mid-1930s to the early 1960s. Currently, the peatland is drained and partially cutover using sod-peat extraction, with peat quarries stretching from west to east. Located between the quarries are peat-drying fields with a virtually non-operating network of field canals. The peatland is drained by a network of secondary, quarry, and main canals.

The peatland is growing over, as there has not been any peat production there in the latest decades. However, restoration of the vegetation cover is impeded by regular fires that have left noticeable traces all over. The whole peatland area belongs to the National Forest Lands, with the exception of a small portion in the north that is occupied by a recreation gardening community.

The site subject for rewetting (1500 ha) is situated in the western and central portions of the peatland. The rewetting project for the 1500-ha site was developed by the group of experts of the Peat Institute at the Tver State Technical University (headed by Prof. V.V. Panov) in 2013. The implementation of the project should promote restoration of the water regime of the peatland and the adjacent waterlogged area covering a total area of 2450 ha. In its turn, restoration of the peatland’s water regime will provide reduction of fire hazard and restoration of ecosystem services, namely water regime regulation, improvement of surface water quality, reduction of GHG emissions, carbon sequestration, restoration and conservation of the biological diversity. Following the technology recommended by the project, water balance of the domed Mokhovoye-2 peatland can only be restored using atmospheric precipitation.

Therefore, the main water source comprises snow meltwater as well as autumn and summer rains. Water retention on the rewetting site will be provided with a system of dams dividing the inner watershed of the peatland to small portions and, thus, reducing runoff from the site and rising the water level within the peat bed on a larger portion of the site to just below the surface, which will increase the peat moisture content without increasing evaporation.

An increase of water level in the quarries and, hence, on the peat drying fields will be provided by making slots in the banks and protection dams. Overflow dams along the peatland’s perimeter will help to retain river runoff. With average annual runoff from the rewetting site taken into account, water volume in the peat bed will grow by 1648-1922 m3/ha within a year. This means that groundwater level will be increasing by 16-19 cm per year.

Thus, the annual water discharge from the peatland will be redistributed between seasons in first post-rewetting years, with spring and autumn high-water periods becoming longer. The dry summer season will gradually become shorter. The AkshenNet Ltd. Company volunteered to implement the rewetting project. In October 2014, two overflow dams were constructed to preserve runoff from the peatland that feeds rivers and brooks; 23 fixed dikes with a one-sided lateral flow on larger canals and 77 fixed dikes on smaller canals; slots in the banks and two protection dams. All the facilities were built using local materials (peat and mineral soil) and imported rock fill for overflow dams. The facilities are supposed to become a “natural” portion of the restored mire. The total cost of the project implementation is 2000 RUB per ha of the rewetting area. Looking forward, the mire water level is expected to rise, which should stimulate the development of mire formation processes and restoration of a near-natural appearance of the peatland.

According to the hydrological rationale of the project, some areas of the peatland will restore after 1-2 years (should the mean long-term mire recharge remain constant), while others will require 3-6 years. The complete recovery of the peatland ecosystems can be reached in 10 years, and peat-formation processes will need several decades to resume. To preserve the current economy system in neighboring areas, influence zones of increased mire water levels were calculated and drainage of these areas foreseen. It is not until after a few years that the fire hazard goes down, especially in unfavorable climate and weather conditions.