REWET Open Labs
The REWET project focus on terrestrial wetlands and brings together a network of seven carefully selected demonstrators, called Open Labs (OLs). These include freshwater wetlands, peatlands and floodplains located in the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Estonia, Belgium, Italy and Portugal. They were selected according to their climatic and geographic conditions, the type of wetland, the vulnerability to natural disasters, the sociocultural context and governance.
OL #1 contains the largest continuous area of peatland in north-west Europe (over 10.000 ha) and it has suffered intervention by peat extractors. The first steps towards restoration were taken in 1930, becoming an example of successful peatland restoration on a regional scale. It is now considered an European hotspot for endangered mosses, vascular plants, dragonflies, and butterflies. The main objective will be to evaluate the effect of restoration, measuring abiotic variables, biodiversity, and GHG emissions on local to regional scale. Using this knowledge together with other OLs, we aim to design large-scale, integrated, nature-based combinations of peatland restoration measures.
The Morava is home to over 500 endangered animal and plant species, a hotspot of biodiversity in Central Europe. At the same time, it is also a habitat, economic and recreational space for the local population and many visitors. The cause of most of the natural deficits has been the river regulation and the separation of many tributaries from the main river, a project that took place between 1936-1984. Within the framework of the EU-funded LIFE project "Renaturierung Untere March-Auen" ambitious measures and species protection projects were implemented from 2011 to 2019. Now, REWET, will specifically focus on monitoring the GHG balance of the restored areas under the previous LIFE project, to serve as a showcase of successful restoration including NBS.
Ylpässuo is a minerotrophic open mire in the northwest corner of Pohjois-Savo in Kiuruvesi, with several endangered plant and bird species. The 11 ha mire area has been affected by edge drains and the peripheral areas were restored by digging the ditches or turning their water back into the mire. The main idea of this OL in the REWET project is to study the restoration success after re-wetting treatments. Qualitative and quantitative changes in the biodiversity will be examined using diverse and interdisciplinary methodologies, including ecological, ecophysiological, metagenomic and remote sensing approaches.
Ess-soo bog in southwest Estonia is of limnogenic origin and most of the bog is part of the landscape protection area. The eastern part of the bog (50 ha) was extensively drained for peat extraction, abandoned in 1994 and currently is not protected. The current site represents an example of the active citizens engagement to stop expansion of drainage and peat extraction in protected areas and to promote restoration of the area. This OL has currently ongoing restoration activities and the entire area will be restored with different approaches.
This OL covers the southeastern part of the Vielsalm community alongside the Amblève tributary Bêche. This region is suitable for sponge restoration because it is part of the middle mountain area that suffered from the 2021 flooding, and it is hugely drained. REWET will focus on the restoration of the sponge function. The plan comprises the use of Nature-Based solutions to preserve water in upstream catchment to enhance water quality, prevent drought and peak flows and store carbon in a more biodiverse landscape. The main action will be rewetting the uppermost catchment of the River Bêche by locking or rewilding drainage channels and raising the riverbed with soil and wood supplementation.
The area was officially recognised on 2019 as part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves under the MaB. Re-naturing of the River Po will be implemented by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan #NextGenerationItalia (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza PNRR - measure C2C4.3 Investment 3.3). Under this plan, the requalification of oxbow lakes will be performed, reconnecting it to the main river. REWET added value is quantifying GHG, carbon sequestration and ecosystem services. The natural and environmental requalification of the ox-bow lake will the pilot project to pursue the aims of the Biodiversity Strategy 2020, with consequent benefits for the whole UNESCO Biosphere Reserve community.
The Paul da Gouxa Nature Reserve is located in Alpiarça, Portugal. This pilot is based in a low peatland area which has been recently designated as locally protected Nature Reserve. The peatland area has been subject to several threats in the past due to drainage for farming, sand abstraction activities, damp filling area, agriculture, cattle breeding, hunting and tentative peat extraction. This Open Lab will bring the unique opportunity to compare real time data of the ecosystem in the following scenarios: natural peatland/wetland (including the use of primitive horses for management purposes); under human use (common reed production for paludiculture purposes); and restored (in areas where sand extraction and cattle breeding has occurred).