On 2 February our planet will celebrate the World Wetlands Day for the nineteenth time. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea. This Convention is also known as the Ramsar Convention and aims to protect this important part of our planet’s ecosystem. In 1997, the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands was designated as the World Wetlands Day.

Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction – the theme of the World Wetlands Day for 2017 – aims to stress the role of wetlands in reducing the impacts of such natural disasters as floods, droughts and cyclones.

Over 160 states have joined the Convention, and Russia is one of them. There are 35 wetlands of international importance in the Russian Federation, which have been included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands. Their total area is over 10 mln ha, and they are located within 21 Russian regions.

As part of the efforts aimed at providing assistance to CIS countries and Russia in climate change mitigation and adaptation, UNDP supports the implementation of EU-funded Clima East initiatives in seven participating countries - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Since 2013, UNDP, with the financial support provided by the European Union, has been implementing two initiatives, which contribute to the conservation of Russian wetlands: the project “Conservation and Restoration of Carbon Pools of Forests and Peatlands Located in the Permafrost Zone of the Republic of Komi and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug” and the project “Conservation and Sustainable Management of Russian Peatlands to Minimize Carbon Emissions and Help Ecosystems to Adapt to Climate Change”.

With the assistance provided by the project “Conservation and Sustainable Management of Russian Peatlands to Minimize Carbon Emissions and Help Ecosystems to Adapt to Climate Change” with a total project budget of USD 1 mln, a ground dam has been reconstructed, which will make it possible to rewet the Birkazan-Kamysh peatland in the Asly Kul state natural national park, which has previously been drained as a result of peat extraction. The restoration of this peatland with a total area of 267 ha will make it possible to fully restore the ecosystem, improve the quality of adjacent pastures and reduce peat fire risks.

Moreover, within the framework of this project, documents needed to create 15 protected areas in the Republic of Bashkortostan have been prepared. It is expected that in April 2017 the republican Ministry of Nature will issue the relevant decree to designate peatlands with a total area of 1.700 ha as protected areas. This will considerably enhance a chance to conserve their rich biological diversity.

The UNDP project is and remains the only peatland restoration initiative in Bashkiria, and it is actively supported by the republican Ministry of Nature. The project is currently preparing justification for designating the Asly Kul natural park, which shelters the Birkazan-Kamysh peatland, as a wetland of international importance. The UNDP-implemented project “Conservation and Restoration of Carbon Pools of Forests and Peatlands Located in the Permafrost Zone of the Republic of Komi and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug” with a total budget of EURO 2.5 mln aims to demonstrate effective methods of conservation, restoration and management of woodlands and peatlands in the north of Russia.

Due to the project efforts, justification for creating the Chernorechensky protected area within the Inta region of the Republic of Komi with a total area of 25,000 ha has been prepared. This is a large area occupied by permafrost peat bogs. Designating this area as a protected area will make it possible to minimize permafrost destruction risks, which inevitably lead to GHG emissions.

Permafrost peat ecosystems in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug are continued to be restored. This is the first environmental restoration experience in this region with the application of innovative approaches, which will serve as a methodological basis for possible further use both in NAO and other Russian regions.