On 13th–14th September, 2019, two hectares of bare peat in post milled extraction field of Aukštumala peatland (Lithuania) were covered by diaspores of Sphagnum mosses. It is one of the largest Sphagnum growing sites in the Baltics, where Canadian ‘moss layer transfer technique’ and German experience in Sphagnum farming were applied aiming at the restoration of raised bog ecosystems. The work was done by the initiative of NGO Lithuanian Fund for Nature within the framework of LIFE project LIFE Peat Restore and in close cooperation with JSC Klasmann-Deilmann Šilutė.
Preparatory work for Sphagnum planting took more than three years. It included thorough analyses of the ecological conditions at the site (peat and irrigation water properties, water hydrological regime) and possibilities to ensure proper water level in Sphagnum growing fields. Contributions were made by the experts of the Greifswald Mire Centre visiting German sites, where Sphagnum farming is implemented (Hankhausen Moor), and by the scientists of the Nature Research Centre (Lithuania), who completed the first Sphagnum cultivation experiments in Aukštumala peatbog a few years ago.
As a result, the 2 ha site in Aukštumala peatland is divided into two parts irrigated by ditches installed every 10 meters. Water supply is ensured by two artificial water reservoirs for storing of rain and snow melt water. Automatic electric pumps provide water from the reservoirs to Sphagnum fields to ensure constant water level, which should be close to the peat surface. Water overflow is removed by a special outflow construction.
Sphagnum planting campaign lasted two days. During the first day, Sphagnum mosses were collected by hand from old peat excavation pits, which had been re-grown by Sphagnum, as well as damaged fields, where peat extraction will take place. Spreading of mosses was performed during the second day both manually and by using slightly modified one-disc fertilizer spreader. Attached to the mini-tractor and serviced by two people, it spread mosses corresponding to the spreading speed of 5–6 people. Due to high winds during the spreading, it was impossible to mulch Sphagnum by straw immediately in all area. Instead Sphagnum and mulch were pressed by wide wheel tractor. Some days later, all Sphagnum farming field was covered by straw for improving favourable microclimate (higher relative humidity, more stable temperatures) for Sphagnum growing. The total volume of the Sphagnum donated material was around 120 m3.
These actions would not be possible without the contribution of volunteers and employees of the JSC Klasmann-Deilmann Šilutė, who took part in the event despite strong wind and rainy weather.
The action is part of LIFE Climate Mitigation project LIFE Peat Restore LIFE15 CCM/DE/000138 “Reduction of CO2 Emissions by Restoring Degraded Peatlands in Northern European Lowland” financed by European Commission, project partners and contribution of JSC Klasmann-Deilmann Šilutė. “We, as the peat extraction company, feel responsible for our business activities, and support such activities as much as we can. We hope that such actions will provide new experiences on most effective restoration methods and good examples of restoration of cut-over peatlands in our country” said the general director of JSC Klasmann-Deilmann Šilutė Kazimieras Kaminskas.
Short movie about the Sphagnum spreading volunteer campaign you can find here: