Peatland inventory

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One of the key tasks of the ‘Restoring Peatlands in Russia’ Project is to compile an inventory of peatlands and potential peatland restoration sites in all regions joining the project. Such an inventory should provide information on the location, area, type, ecological condition, landuse and values of the peatlands. This forms the basis for establishing priorities for any activity relating to the use, protection and restoration of peatlands. The inventory data also provide the basis for monitoring the status of peatlands, and for evaluating the effectiveness of restoration measures taken.

At the present time, peatlands in Russia (both pristine and developed for various uses) are related to several categories of land: agricultural, forestry, reserved lands, lands under water, etc. There is no integrated peatland registry, which makes it difficult to plan restoration and monitoring activities for drained peatlands.

The Institute of Forest Science under the Russian Academy of Sciences has developed an integrated peatland inventory methodology, including the collection of sectoral statistics, forest survey data, earth remote sensing data (satellite images of high and super high resolution), and filling in a GIS database with all this information.

According to this methodology, the process of inventory consists of the following stages: spotting peatlands with the input of information to the GIS database, contouring borders of peatlands, making adjustments according to existing data, and updating information.

The first stage can draw on the data from the directories and maps of peat deposits produced by the Russian Geology Fund (Rosgeolfond). These materials contain data from the geological surveys of peat deposits conducted nearly for every administrative region of the Russian Federation in the mid-20th century. In particular, information on location, borders, type, thickness and depth of peat deposits is included in the directories. Obviously, this information is often out of date and needs actualization. Considering that these directories are mainly focused on those peatlands that could be used for industrial peat extraction, not all peatlands are listed in the directories and mapped. Above that, no geographical coordinates of the sites are provided, only their approximate relative locations: the distance and direction to nearby settlements. The maps normally do not show the borders of peatlands, only their general location, by using conventional symbols (picture 1). Although, detailed large-scale maps of the largest and most important peat deposits that have been under explicit survey are available at Rosgeolfond.

 

Picture 1. Fragment of peat deposit map1 – type of peat: a) raised bog, б) transitional, в) fen;

2 – area of peat deposit: а) 11-50 ha, б) 50-100 ha, в) over 100 ha;

3 – category of peat stock: а) A and B; б) C1 and C2; в) prognostic;

4 – other: а) areas of peat with low decomposition rate; б) developed deposits; в) shallow peat deposits

 

During the next phase, the acquired data is updated against the earth remote sensing (ERS) images. The ERS data must satisfy the following requirements: multispectral imaging with near-infrared bands, which proved the most informative for the interpretation of vegetation cover and peatland surface condition; high resolution of the shooting for reliant interpretation of the objects with area up to 0,5 hectares; complete coverage of the studied area with cloudless images during the growing season (May – September) for several years; reasonable costs of the data. Our analysis of global archives shows that the SPOT-5 multispectral shooting with pixel size 10 m suits the requirements to the full extent. A mosaic covering the whole region of our interest is formed out of separate images (pic. 2).

Picture 2. The process of mosaic generation from satellite imagery data

During this work stage, a search for peatlands in satellite images is performed, thereby correcting and complementing information obtained from Rosgeolfond during the previous stage. The following information on all identified peatlands is entered in to GIS: name of peatland; area of peat deposit for zero and industrial peat depths; thickness, volume and type of peat; names of streams and rivers originating in the peatland. For peat deposits, information on peat extraction, drainage, inundation, agricultural use and biodiversity value of the site is provided.

So far, all currently available information on peatlands in the Moscow, Kaliningrad, Ryazan and Vladimir Regions and Republic of Bashkortostan has been collected.

The inventory data has been verified during field surveys and local consultations, and submitted to the regional management bodies.