Development of Sustainable (adaptive) peatland management by Restoration and paludiculture for nutrient retention and other ecosystem services in the Neman river catchment

January 2019 -
December 2021


Policy area:
2. Natural resources 2.1 Clear waters


The DESIRE project improves the management of drained peatlands around the Neman river to reduce their nutrient and greenhouse gas emissions. The Neman river basin serves as a model area for EU-Russia/non-EU cooperation. DESIRE rehydrates selected drained peatlands and establishes a sustainable form of land use. Such wetlands serve as filters for water running into the river. The project provides instruments and incentives for others to copy the approach, e.g. adapted river basin management plans and agri-environmental schemes.


Why to restore peatlands - Peatland protection is climate protection

Peatlands store enormous amounts of fresh water, carbon and nutrients. At the same time, peatlands are shaped strongly by drainage for agriculture, forestry and peat extraction; worldwide about 15 % of peatlands are drained and cause 5 % of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Neman river is one of the largest rovers in eastern Europe. In the catchment basin of Neman river in Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and Russia drainage leads to peat degradation and eutrophication of the river waters and the Baltic Sea. Rewetting can stop these processes and delivers manifold environmental benefits. Thus, it is of strong transnational relevance.

How DESIRE restores peatlands

The main goal of DESIRE is peatland rewetting and sustainable wet use (paludiculture) in the Neman catchment. A mixed approach is applied: drafting of policy recommendations, generating new knowledge via modelling the effectivity of rewetting and paludiculture as well as exemplarily rewetting of peatlands in the Neman catchment to function as wetland buffer zones. Harvesting of nutrient-rich biomass from pilot sites in Lithuania, Poland and Kaliningrad region (Russia) and its utilisation is meant to improve water quality. This so-called paludiculture integrates conservation and utilization.

How others learn from experience in DESIRE

The project’s aim is to increase the capacity of regional and national authorities in the Neman catchment, NGOs, agricultural consultants and other stakeholders to adopt policies that incentivise wet peatland management for nutrient retention. The project aims to feed into river basin management plans and to propose agri-environmental schemes as instruments and incentives for farmers. Pilot sites are used for awareness raising and demonstration of practices towards stakeholders. Institutional capacity building is carried out to scale up the approach across the catchment of the Neman.


€ 1.72
€ 1.16
Eni + Russia
€ 0.23
€ 0.00



Project manager

University of Greifswald

Wendelin Wichtmann, Dr.

4 938 348 354 216

Legal representative

University of Greifswald

Juliane Huwe, Dr.

+49 3834 420 1371

Financial manager

University of Greifswald

Marina Abramchuk

+49 3834 420 4145

Communication manager

Greifswald University

Wendelin Wichtmann

+49 38 348 354 216