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09 December 2015, 16:03

Almost 50 new dams built at Yelnya bog under UNDP/GEF project

VITEBSK, 9 December (BelTA) – Nearly 50 new dams have been built at the upland bog Yelnya in Miory District under the UNDP/GEF project Peatlands 2, BelTA learnt from director of the state nature protection institution Yelnya Ivan Borok.

The project aimed at restoring the hydrologic regime of the bog and its natural ground cover, fire prevention was implemented at the Yelnya reserve from 1 October to 30 November 2015. “Yelnya is one of the European biggest upland bogs. Its distinguished feature is in its water being replenished from rainfall and going away through numerous streams – rivers and channels. With the aim to preventing bog drainage we, in cooperation with the organization Fatherland Birds Protection and the financial support of the Coca Cola Beverages Belorussiya, had been running voluntary camps to build, do research and repair dams at the channels, a total of more than 30. In a span of two months we built 48 more dams as part of the Peatlands 2 project,” said Ivan Borok.

The tender to build dams at the Yelnya bog was won by the Verkhnedvinsk reclamation systems company. All the dams are different, with the biggest one reaching almost 70 meters. There are also two plastic long-life dams. “The results of our efforts will be seen after a spring flood. However, today we can already see that the water level has risen slightly. Before the launch of the project, we calculated how much fresh water is contained in the bog system. It turned to be 475 million cubic meters. The higher amount is only in Naroch. Keeping in mind the UN recent statements that the shortage of fresh water will be one of the key problems by 2030, the current work is of crucial importance,” Ivan Borok stressed.

The plans for this year included only the construction of dams under the project. However, thanks to the participation of the Coca Cola Beverages Belorussiya, the implementation of one more project has become possible, which is the construction of dikes for special-purpose vehicles. This work has been launched this week. There are plans to build nearly 2km of dikes.

The landscape reserve Yelnya is Belarus' biggest and one of the European largest lake and bog systems, and also an ice-age specimen. It is home to rare plants and animal species, massive peat beds. A healthy peatland is known to neutralize great volumes of CO2. Yelnya is a Ramsar wetland (since 2002), a key ornithological (since 2000) and botanic (since 2005) territory of the international importance. In the Belarusian environmental network scheme developed by the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus the reserve is viewed as a promising core of the national importance. In line with the EU Habitats Directive, 75.2% of the ecosystems are considered as under protection in Europe proves the important role of the Yelnya reserve in the preservation of the landscape and biological diversity in Europe.

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