17/2/2016

Feasibility of Restoring former wetland

  • Umhverfi
Verkis has published a report on the feasibility of restoring an 87 hectare former wetland that has been converted into agricultural land. 

By damming or filling up drainage ditches, the area can be restored as wetland again and could be made into a nature reserve with possibilities for environmental education and recreation.

The area was drained with a network of diches with the purpose of making fields for hay crops and grazing in the latter half of the last century. Today the area is mainly used as a grazing area for horses. By damming the ditches and thus raising the groundwater level again, several changes will take place in the area. Wetland vegetation will return and take over from the more terrestrial vegetation and the bird fauna will change as well, but birdlife in Úlfarsárdalur is quite diverse.

The carbon cycle of the area will change following the restoration of the wetland. With the drainage of wetlands like in Úlfarsárdalur, the area begins to loose carbon in the form of greenhouse gases such as CO2.  With restoration this process is reversed, the disturbed area no longer emits greenhouse gases and returns to serving as a CO2 sink and storing carbon again. Much can be gained by restoration. Of the 87 hectare area in Úlfarsárdalur it is estimated that around 75% can be restored as a wetland and will start to store carbon, around 400 tons per year.