Preparation of the action plan for rehabilitation of conditions for biodiversity and other ecosystem services in Biržulis, Stervas and Debesnos wetlands and implementation of pilot rehabilitation measures
Summary of project results
The project area - the Biržulis, Stervas and Debesnos wetlands (3881 ha) have been heavily altered by land reclamation to achieve the goal of transforming Biržulis wetland into agricultural fields, but resulted in shallow remnant (120 ha) of Biržulis lake out of previous more than 700 ha area. The lake lost its direct hydrological connection with the Stervas lake (important migration corridor for local fish). In parallel peat excavation took place in Degėsio bog (Stervas wetland) that was abandoned in the middle of the 20th century. The mentioned alterations resulted in fast succession of wetlands. Shallow areas and exposed bottom of the lake overgrew with reed and bushes. Fish populations decreased in the lake, many rare and typical wetland bird species completely disappeared. Ecological state of the Stervas lake had also changed. Formerly typical spring floods disappeared in Debesnos mire, growth of tall grasses, bushes and trees intensified. Degėsio raised bog was left degrading. Despite of significant decrease in biodiversity the wetlands are still of national and international importance. Project wetlands have huge potential of rehabilitation of ecosystem services, including significantly improved conditions for biodiversity. Realization of this potential as well as fulfilling of national and EU Habitat, Bird and Water Framework Directive requirements is only possible by establishing necessary preconditions. Comprehensive situation analysis, development of concrete restoration objectives and measures, cost-benefit analysis and assurance of involvement of local communities in the planning process requires good methodological preparedness and wide involvement of experts. This was planned for within this project aiming at preparation of the action plan for rehabilitation of ecosystem services in Biržulis, Stervas and Debesnos wetlands. International group of experts was formed for this purpose. Additionally project aimed at implementation of pilot restoration measures enhancing ecosystem services and realizable within the project life span. Such measures include restoration of hydrological conditions in Degėsiai degraded raised bog and revival of traditional management (moving and grazing) in Debesnos wetland. Additionally, experimental removal and composting of floating reed mat biomass was done. This action was important for planning restoration of Biržulis lake.
During implementation of the Project working together partners improved knowledge and understanding between organizations. The partner's experts shared their experience and knowledge while participating in expert workgroup and provided consultations for preparation of Project reports. Collaboration of the partners ensured the quality of the Project results and usage of the best Norwegian practice in Lithuania.
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