By Olga Ovechkina
The Ministry for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection has already applied to the GEF for funding for a new project for 2012: restored damaged wetlands. A decision needs to be made as to how each marshland should be used. “Taking into account all factors, we’ll decide whether to restore each marsh or whether to extract peat in line with definite criteria,” explains Alexander Kozulin, a leading research officer at the National Academy of Sciences’ Scientific-Practical Centre for Bio-resources. The Energy Ministry is currently involved in developing the schemes, while participation of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry will allow specialists to make more informed decisions.
Measures are also planned to improve the system of specially protected natural territories. At present, peatlands in Belarus account for 2.4m hectares, with only 862,000 hectares (36 percent) preserved in their natural state by 2010. For more than half, their hydrological regime has been broken, as the land has been drained and peat extracted.
Belarus hopes to soon receive around $9m from the GEF in total for new ecological projects used to preserve wetlands and develop wind power. In addition, energy efficiency in residential buildings is to be improved.