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Representation in Ireland
Factsheet7 April 2020

The EU has stopped Irish people engaging in their traditional practice of cutting turf

The European Commission has asked Ireland to take urgent action to protect Irish peat bog habitats in accordance with the Habitats Directive and the EIA Directive related to peat extraction on protected bogs.  

Ireland’s raised bogs are among the world’s oldest living eco-systems and many date back almost 10,000 years. They are found mainly in the midlands and it is estimated they once covered almost a million acres of land.

However, just 1% of Ireland's active raised bogs now remain after years of land reclamation and turf-cutting.

The European Commission asked Ireland to take urgent action to protect Irish peat bog habitats in accordance with the Habitats Directive and the EIA Directive related to peat extraction on protected bogs.

The Commission believes bans on turf cutting in 56 active raised bogs introduced in 2010 and 2011 haven not been met with an effective response.

It is worth pointing out that these 56 bogs amount to less than 2% of the bogs in Ireland where turf-cutting is possible. Most of Ireland's bogs are not protected because they are 'blanket bogs' which, while also in decline, are not as special or vulnerable.

The EU is also funding a project to bring 12 of Ireland’s unique raised bogs in seven counties across the midlands back to life.

The €5.4 million Living Bog project is designed to improve over 2,600 hectares of threatened raised bog habitat – the equivalent of over 7,000 Croke Parks and 18% of the national high bog area.

It is part funded through LIFE, the EU’s financial instrument that supports environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout Europe. The project is based in Co Westmeath and covers bogs in Offaly, Longford, Roscommon, Galway, Meath and Cavan as well as Westmeath.

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