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Restoring Ireland's raised bogs to capture carbon

Ireland’s raised bogs are among Europe’s oldest near-natural ecosystems, dating back over 10,000 years. Protected under the EU Habitats Directive, they are home to many rare and endangered flora and fauna, and are Ireland’s greatest carbon stores.

Bogland, Ireland

The importance of restoring Ireland's raised bogs

It is estimated that a 15cm thick layer of peat contains more carbon per hectare than a tropical forest. Peat covers over 20% of the landscape in Ireland and is estimated to store over 1,000 million tonnes of carbon. Carbon capture is essential to life on earth.

Over 200 years ago, there were over 800,000 acres of intact raised bogs across the Irish midlands. However, since then, they have been exploited as a source of cheap fuel which depleted the areas. Approximately 8% is deemed suitable for restoration/conservation today and less than 1% is said to be active, living bog (still capable of growing).

Commencing in 2016, The Living Bog Project is the largest raised bog restoration project ever undertaken in Ireland.

 

How EU LIFE funding is helping

Ronan Casey, Public Awareness Manager of The Living Bog project, says, “The five-year project is working on 12 Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation/Natura 2000 sites across seven counties in the Midlands, to help in the fight against climate change.”

The Living Bog Project plans to re-create over 750 hectares of active raised bog and improve 2,649 hectares of bog habitat – the equivalent of almost 7,000 Croke Parks! The project has been made possible by the EU LIFE14 Programme for Environment and Climate Action (Nature & Biodiversity) which funds €4.6 million, and the Government which funds €5.4 million. 

The EU funding has helped us to completely restore the eco-hydrological functions of six of the 12 raised bogs: Ronan Casey.

“Restoration works are presently ongoing on two other sites, with works now beginning on the final four. Over 12,000 peat dams will be used to block almost 200km of drains that are taking water from the bogs. We have currently installed over 6,300 peat dams and we are seeing the return of pioneer raised bog vegetation and species. Restoration works are going very well.”

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