The State Forest Management Centre will begin sowing peat moss in the Võru County bog 12.10

The State Forest Management Centre (RMK) will begin sowing peat moss in the Võru County Ess-soo bog former peat mining area on Wednesday, 13 October. If everything goes according to plan, in three to four years the area damaged by mining should turn into a green moss field.

Approximately 18 hectares of peat moss will be sown in the Ess-soo bog. This work was formerly carried out mechanically on the same scale in Pärnu County, in the Maima cutover peatland.

The State Forest Management Centre’s Nature Protection Specialist Priit Voolaid said that the moss will be sown onto a natural grassland area that was abandoned at the end of the 1990s, where the bog’s native plant life has not started to regrow in two decades.

The required material for sowing was collected from a two hectare area in Tartu County’s Sangla field, where they will begin mining peat and where that peat moss would be destroyed regardless. “We will receive enough material to sow between 10 and 15 hectares from an area of one hectare, so we will be taking more than enough moss,” said Priit Voolaid The moss will be peeled as thinly as possible. The sowing area will be smoothed beforehand in order to make it as level as possible.
“They will attach a manure spreader to a two-wheel tractor in order to sow the peat moss. A machine will follow the manure spreader that will cover the moss with straw in order to protect it from drying,” Voolaid explained. After that, the drainage canals are quickly closed and the water level will be raised to an adequate height.

“The weather right now has been extremely favourable for sowing peat moss – it has not been raining much and the machines have not sunk in, while on the other hand, it has not been too dry for the material to dry out either,” Voolaid noted.

This method originated from Canada and if the seeding is successful, the peat moss in the area will start growing much more quickly than it would naturally. This is also essential for mitigating environmental consequences, because former peat mining areas in which water levels have been reduced and not covered with plant life emit a considerable amount of carbon. The bogs will start to bind carbon again after restoration. Restoring cutover peatlands is considered to be a cost-effective and viable method to bind greenhouse gases.

A similar amount of peat moss was sown in the same way in Pärnu County’s Maima cutover peatland last year. Voolaid admitted that the sowing was not completely successful, as some areas became flooded. “We took lessons from Maima and changed up the project in order to ensure that the sowing area would not be flooded,” the nature protection specialist said. “I hope we will able to avoid it at the Ess-soo bog.

The State Forest Management Centre started restoration work in the Ess-soo bog last year. Approximately 160 hectares of swamp will be restored alongside the sowing area. Voolaid pointed out that the Ess-soo bog is a comprehensive research area that has been of interest to researchers at the University of Tartu well before restoration even started.

“With assistance from scientists, we can find out which solutions for closure of ditches are the most effective in restoring water to the cutover peatlands, and how big the environmental impact is of various restoration methods,” Voolaid added.

The State Forest Management Centre has restored approximately 12,500 hectares of bog habitats over the past ten years, and the work will not slow down in the upcoming years.

The natural grassland area in the Ess-soo bog in which the peat moss will be sown. Photo: Priit Voolaid

Further information:
Priit Voolaid
The State Forest Management Centre’s Nature Protection Specialist
+372 5681 0925