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Demonstration seminar in Augstroze Nature Reserve, Latvia

In order to acquaint the interested parties with the peatland restoration technique used by LIFE Peat Restore in the project areas in Latvia, the project team organized a demonstration seminar on 9 October 2020. The seminar took place in Madiešēni Mire in Augstroze Nature Reserve (Latvia) and gathered 25 participants, mainly peatland experts and practitioners.

During the seminar, the participants were introduced to the entire work process including the final stage, construction work. The full cycle includes planning and designing works – field inventories and modelling, development of nature protection plan, development of technical designs, coordination of technical designs with the national and municipal authorities. The participants were also introduced to the objectives of the LIFE Peat Restore project and the actions already implemented, the methods used in monitoring of vegetation and water table, the GEST method, and instrumental measurement of greenhouse gases. The field seminar was held in a place where long-term observations take place, thus it was possible to see a greenhouse gas measurement station set up during the project.

Discussion at the greenhouse gas measurement station. Photo: A.Priede.

The demonstration of the peat dam construction aroused the greatest interest. This type of demonstration, available to a wider audience, not only the directly involved staff, took place for the first time in Latvia. In the construction of dams in all project territories, including Madiešēni Mire, light small-sized technical units with low pressure on the ground are being used, therefore no permanent damage is caused to the peatland. The project team and technical operators have a vast experience in peat dam construction gained in previous projects.

Most of the seminar participants acknowledged that they have seen such dams in other peatland areas, but this was an opportunity to observe not only the result, but also the work process. After the demonstration, it was possible also to visit several peat dams built in the previous day.

The locations, techniques and potential impact of the dams were planned by experts from the University of Latvia, whereas the design and construction works were performed by the project partner E Būvvadība. The dam construction in Augstroze Nature Reserve continues and will be completed in the coming days. During the seminar, also the film-making crew (project partner, Rucka Art Foundation) participated by taking shoots for the documentaries planned within the project.

Similar peat dams are already built in another project area in Latvia, Baltezers Mire Nature Reserve, where the work was completed in the end of August 2020.

Here, we provide an insight into the process of peat dam construction.

The first step in the construction of the peat dam – the excavator bucket removes the mud accumulated in the ditch and decomposed peat from at the edges of the ditch. This material is not suitable for dam construction. Photo: A.Priede.
The upper layer from the surface of the bog with living vegetation is removed and set aside. Peat to be used for the construction of the dam is taken in a small pit right at the edge of the ditch, occasionally compacting it with an excavator bucket. Photo: A.Priede.
In order not to leave a deep pit after completing the dam construction, its edges are levelled and the pit is partially filled up with peat taken from the surroundings of the dam. A shallow depression remains, which will gradually fill up with water and overgrow with bog vegetation. Photo: A.Priede.
The peat dam is ready. Shortly after construction it is higher than the bog surface, but over time the peat will settle. When the construction of the dam is completed, the sods with living vegetation removed at the beginning are placed on the dam surface. This will speed up the integration of the dam into the bog landscape and make the dam more stable. Photo: A.Priede.