Remediation of sandpits on the territory of Minsk region as a method of restoring degraded lands and contribution to mitigating the negative impacts of climate change

Minsk region

December 2011 - June 2013

Included in the Top 10 Successful GEF SGP Projects for Belarus.

Land is a national treasure of Belarus and one of the major natural resources for the sustainable development of the country. One of the major constraints to sustainable land use and factor conducive to deteriorating environmental condition of soil cover are the land degradation process, which inflicts significant economic, environmental and social damage. One of the causes of land degradation in Belarus is the transformation of land due to mining and construction, which resulted in exhausted open pits forming across the country. Illegal dumps grew like a snowball, causing soil erosion and then water pollution. After a very short time runoff from the waste began threatening nearby water bodies. Depleted pits turned into a source of increased environmental risk. Only in Minsk region they occupy the area of about 110 hectares.

The project idea was to create a showcase for land degradation problems left from the Soviet history that local communities can solve and sustainably manage and such practice with some support from the Governmental level can be easily addressed all over the country. The main problem the project was seeking to solve was remediation of abandoned sandpits (unauthorized waste dumps) and prevention of soil degradation on territories of Minsk region through afforestation and meadow formation and implementation activities on prevention possibility of their appearance in future with full involvement of local population.

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Environmental Impact:

  • ● Reclamation (through afforestation) of degraded land of 4 pits and 10 mini-landfills.

  • 28.7 hectares, of which 18.9 ha abandoned sandpits and 9.8 hectares of former mini-landfills were cleaned from unauthorized waste and prepared for trees planting.

  • 178,000 spruce and pine were planted on the territory 28.7 ha, thus 28.7 ha have changed the status from degraded lands to reclaimed one.

  • ● The above GEF SGP successfully realized project is related not only to land degradation but contribute to climate change focal area.

  • ● 1 hectare of forest during one sunny day absorbs from the air 120-280 kg of carbon dioxide and releases 180-200 kg of oxygen.

  • ● One medium-size tree produces as much oxygen as it is necessary for respiration of 3 persons.

  • ● One hectare of pine trees absorbs during the year 40 tons of dust.

Thus 28.7 ha of newly planted forest daily absorb from the air about 6 tons of CO2 and 1140 tons of dust.


Key successes of this Project:

  • ● The project serves as a model for developing a system to prevent the use of such sites as landfills and to replicate this experience in other regions of Belarus.

  • ● The project demonstrated a successful model for the interaction of NGOs, local communities, local and central authorities, business organizations to solve relevant to the local community social and environmental problems.

  • ● The successful implementation of this GEF SGP project in the Minsk region is therefore contributing valuable experience in restoration of these degraded lands to overall national policy formulation and implementation.


GEF Small Grants Programme in Belarus

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus (policy influence, cofinancing, active participation in project activities)

Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Belarus (policy influence, cofinancing, active participation in project activities)

Minsk Regional Executive Committee (policy influence, cofinancing, active participation in project activities)

Ministry of Housing and Municipal services (policy influence)

Minsk forestry enterprise and Minsk Forest and Park enterprise (cofinancing, supply of trees seedlings, preparation of land for trees planting and active participation in all project activities.

Five village councils of the Minsk region (active participation in all project activities

Business organizations: Belarusian mobile operator "Mobile Telecommunications Systems" and company "Belorusneft" (cofinancing)

Number of residents including schoolchildren and members of associations of gardeners, adjacent to the remediated sandpits, formed with the assistance of NGO a volunteer movement for public monitoring of the rehabilitated lands and prevention of the appearance of unauthorized sandpits and landfills in the future.