The second phase of the peatland restoration project is now underway in Belarus, supported by UNCCD. It will involve the application of rewetting techniques, improvements in monitoring, forecasting and early warning of peatland fires assessment of the CO2 removal from rehabilitated sites. The project will help reduce the impacts of climate change on the sustainable economic development and to improve the living standards of the population in the Gomel region by developing local capacity for sustainable management of natural resources. A team of Belarusian experts, together with the Global Mechanism of UNCCD, is currently developing a gender-responsive transformative project to rewet 33,000 ha of degraded peat- and mirelands, achieving multiple benefits at scale.
Rewetting and re-naturalization of Belarusian peatlands will provide a number of ecosystem benefits: the level of ground water will rise, reducing drought risks through accumulation of freshwater. By preventing further mineralization of peats, the soil carbon will be locked in the rewetted areas, also removing carbon from the atmosphere. Rewetted peatlands also have a larger potential to sustain biodiversity, including economically natural resources such as cranberry bogs. Another promising path is the development of ecotourism to utilize the recreational potential of the mires.
The UNCCD supports the efforts of the Government of Belarus on rehabilitation of peatlands since 2018 through the Greening Drylands Partnership, an initiative funded by the Government of South Korea. Between 2018-2019, about 1000 ha of degraded peatlands have been rewetted in Mogilev region in the south-east of Belarus. Sustainability of the rehabilitation measures is grounded in the strong partnership built between local authorities, forestry department and local community.