Peatland restoration for the Yellow River flow

Introduction

Wetland International China, working with local and international partners, has supported local governmental sectors to recognise just how valuable the Ruoergai peatlands are. The organisation has worked to share knowledge and information about these peatlands both in and outside of China. With support under the UNEP/Global Envrionmental Facility and EU-China Biodiversity Conservation, peatland restoration activities have been tested and demonstrated in some drained canals, gully erosion and peat cutover sites.

Description

The Ruoergai Plateau comprises 4,733 ha of peatlands in the upper catchment of the Yellow River, straddling the border of Sichuan and Gansu provinces. These peatlands are of key importance for the conservation of alpine biodiversity – both in the peatland and adjacent grasslands. They also provide key habitat for endangered wildlife species such as black-necked cranes and a range of rare birds, fish, amphibians and plant species. The area supports two national nature reserves, two designated Ramsar Sites and two provincial nature reserves. The main threat to the Ruoerga peatlands comes from overgrazing, which has caused a lowering of the water table because of the drained canals and gully erosion. However, the increasing temperature in the Tibet Plateau due to climate change has also affected the area. As well as environmental impacts, the degradation of these habitats has a significant impact on local communities as there is a reduction in ranger land, water supply, fodder crops and tourism potential.

Project Aims

Demonstration sites helped persuade individuals and groups that restoration was needed for nature as well as community livelihoods. Local authorities have since recognised the effectiveness of the methods used and have provided funding for large scale restoration. In addition, local government has prioritised ecological conservation as a long term objective. However, the main challenge still facing the restoration of peatlands in the Ruoergai Plateau is overgrazing. Grazing is a traditional practice that local communities rely on heavily for their livelihoods. As more peatlands have been restored and/or designated as protected areas, the pressure of grazing on the remaining pastures has increased. To move forward with peatland conservation in this area, it is therefore important to explore and offer alternative livelihood options and reduce the dependency on livestock husbandry on drained or degraded peatlands.

Restoration Delivered

Peatlands are very important for water provision, grazing potential and tourism development. This restoration project aims to protect the ecosystem services provided by this habitat, such as water supply, carbon storage and sequestration, whilst conserving traditional Tibetan cultural heritage. Working to prevent further degradation of the Ruoergai peatlands, several restoration methods have been put in place: •Canals have been blocked using wooden planks, bags filled with peat, sand and/or boulders. •Fencing has been used around some of the blocked canals to prevent trampling from yaks. •Re-vegetation has been initiated to stabilise soil surface. •Gullies have been blocked by bags filled with peat. •A concrete dam has been built to hold back the water in the open peat (cut 2m deep). To date, approximately 1,568 ha of peatland has been restored with evidence of successful re-vegetation; vegetation such as Halerpestes tricuspis, Equisetum heleocharis has been identified at restored sites. The results show that wood planks work well to increase water table level in the narrow and deep water canals whilst sand or peat bags work better in the wide and shallow canals. The blocking of the gullies showed positive effects, and the installation of plastic pipes helped guide water flow to the canals when water table was high enough to overflow surface, controlling soil erosion.

{"zoom":6,"lat":35.86166,"lon":104.195397}

Project Name: Peatland restoration for the Yellow River flow

Organisation / Lead partner: Wetland International China

Approximate area covered: 4733 ha

Predominately: Upland

Project Type: Restoration

Join our team
We are recruiting - closing date 19th August 2020  We are recruiting for a Peatland Code Co-ordinator and a Communications Officer…
Sustainably sourced Sphagnum growing, harvested to produce dried Sphagnum (BeadaGro™) and mixed with other peat-free products to create a sustainable growing media.
Peat-free products - protecting peatlands, climate, gardening, pot-plants & salad.   By Jacqueline Wright, Business Development Manager, Beadamoss®
Sphagnum moss harvesting at trial site, Greifswald Mire Centre © Tobias Dahms
Wet agriculture - a tool in the climate action toolboxWith the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions wherever possible, complimenting traditional…
Money for peatland restoration
Budget announcements for UK peatland restoration Peatlands received a welcome funding boost in the UK Budget 2020.  In a move to support the…
Peatlands in the EU post CAP
Peatlands in the UK beyond Common Agriculture Policy (CAP)The IUCN UK Peatland Programme continues to feed into the international peatland agenda, recently…
Afforested peatland restoration at Forsinard  © Neil Cowie/RSPB
Peatland & Trees position statement releasedThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have released a position statement and recommendations on Trees on…
Caithness Wildfire, 2019 © Paul Turner
Burning & Peatlands Position StatementThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have updated our position statement on Burning and Peatlands which…