DESIRE LT is a project for development of Sustainable adaptive peatland management by restoration and paludiculture for nutrient retention and other ecosystem services in the Neman river catchment

Neman basin is the 4th biggest catchment in the Baltic, with high concentrations of nutrients, occurring in different parts of the basin. The pollutants are transported to the Baltic Sea and causing eutrophication. The DESIRE project focuses on numerous disturbed peatlands in the region aiming to restore pilot sites as wetland buffer zones and at the same time initiating active usage of such sites, e.g. start paludiculture activities, to remove additional nutrients from the sites and create additional benefits like habitat for biodiversity and climate change mitigation.


Situation and background

The project focuses on the sites within the Zuvintas Biosphere Reserve and its buffer zones. The Reserve is protected area of international importance, located in south Lithuania. Part of the Reserve is included into the list of Ramsar sites, while the whole Biosphere Reserve (14 199 ha) is included into the network of UNESCO biosphere reserves. However, the Reserve, being located in the depression of Zuvintas lake with adjacent numerous wetlands, is highly impacted by surrounding intensive agricultural fields, and other human activities, e.g aquaculture (fish ponds). The measures for reduction of nutrient inflow reduction were foreseen in the management and restoration plan of Natura 2000 sites in the Dovine river basin. The project targets two pilot sites: the upstream valley of channelized Dovine river and polder meadows close to Amalvas lake. In both cases, the measures, which will enable flooding and stopping water in the meadows, are foreseen in the management plan, and later included into the planning scheme of Zuvintas Biosphere Reserve, or other lower level documents, e.g. agreements with local authority.

Further usages in paludiculture of the sites will be discussed with land owners and users finding most optimal solutions for management.

Project activities and effects

Project Goal:

  • To increase efficiency of peatlands management for reduced nutrients loads from the catchment to the Neman river waters and to the Baltic Sea.

Relevance to Foundation Principles & Funding Eligibility

  • The project will help to reduce the inflow of pollutants to the Baltic Sea via one of the major river catchments in the region, leading to eutrophication;
  • Also, the project will help to improve biodiversity by restoring degraded peatlands;
  • Project will reduce GHG emissions and therefore contribute to mitigation of climate change
  • The project also will contribute to foster cooperation between the NGOs and authorities (on all levels: local, regional, national, EU, transboundary to Russia)
  • The project has international character by involvement of states, bordering the Baltic Sea and being in the same river basin, e.g. Russia, Belarus.


  • Prepare planning documentation and permissions for rewetting
  • Elaborate plans for paludiculture and utilization of biomass harvested in the pilot sites
  • Develop and disseminate guidelines for rewetting and paludiculture
  • Implement rewetting of approx. 5 ha of sites on degraded peatlands
  • Develop knowledge transfer concept to inform interested parties



Lithuanian Fund for Nature


  • Greifswald University (DE)
  • Michael Succow Foundation (DE)
  • Aleksandras Stulginskis University (LT)

Project region 


Project duration 

2018-12-01 – 2021-09-30


total project budget: € 212.228,70
funding baltfc: € 31.515,96