Peatlands in water management in the Boreal Region

Theme 1. Environmental protection
Session Name 1.4 Sustainable development of the Arctic - boreal regions
Datetime Sep 05, 2018 03:00 PM - 03:15 PM (UTC +3)
Location IT105
Presentation Type Oral
Presenter Kaisa Heikkinen
Author(s) Kaisa Heikkinen (Finnish Environment Institute, Finland), Anssi Kerppinen (Finnish Environment Institute, Finland), Heini Postila (University of Oulu, Finland), Raimo Ihme (Finnish Environment Institute, Finland), Björn Klöve (University of Oulu, Finland)
Abstract text

Boreal peatlands are an essential part of Finnish Nature. They purify waters by means of natural physical, chemical and biological processes of their ecosystem. Use of this ecosystem service has so far been made in peat extraction, and is increasing also in forestry. 


At Finnish peat extraction sites the peatlands in water management comprise either undrained or drained overland flow areas (OFAs or DOFAs), with the OFAs representing the best available technology (BAT) for peat extraction. Extensive long-term (4 - 23 years) environmental pollution control databases from 14 OFAs and DOFAs in different parts of Finland indicate that especially the OFAs have good and long-term treatment performance in water management. They also tell us that hydraulic loading rate, the size of the wetland in relation to its catchment area, its gradient, and the length of the water flow route and the efficient flow area within the wetland are significant factors affecting the purification efficiency of the OFAs and DOFAs.


Nowadays the water pollution load in boreal drainage basins originates mainly from land use in agriculture, forestry and peat extraction, and is decreased by buffer zones, treatment wetlands and overland flow areas on soils near the operations. In Finland, one of the countries with most peatlands in the world, it is thus possible to increase the use of peatlands in water management.  One of the main aims of this talk is to consider the challenges that we have to overcome in order to achieve this ambition.

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