Minister Humphreys welcomes EU funding for €5.4m project for restoration of Ireland’s Active Raised Bogs
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Thursday) welcomed the approval by the European Commission of a new project worth over €5.4 million for the restoration of Active Raised Bog in Ireland’s Special Area of Conservation (SAC) Network.
The project, which will operate from 2016 to 2020, seeks to improve the conservation status in Ireland of active raised bog, a priority habitat under the Habitats Directive, using best practice conservation actions. The project will support the restoration of active raised bog in 12 SAC project sites throughout Ireland. A project team is being recruited to implement this project and will be consulting with local communities in the relevant areas.
Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:
“This project will provide a significant financial injection for the conservation of Ireland’s protected raised bogs, will provide benefits to rural communities and also create employment opportunities.
“The project will also be a very positive step forward in efforts to reverse the decline of active raised bog in Ireland and will support the measures of the National Peatlands Strategy and the National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan.
“This project will be undertaken with the consultation and involvement of local communities. I am hopeful that this project will raise awareness of the importance and uniqueness of Ireland’s raised bogs and will help address the urgent need for conservation and restoration measures.”
In 2014, an application was made by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to the EU LIFE programme to provide funding support for this project. The European Commission has now agreed to provide almost 75% co-funding (€4.056m) for this €5.4 million project which is being undertaken by the Department.
Note to Editors:
Ireland’s Raised Bog SACs
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are selected to protect habitats and species that are rare and threatened at a European scale. The EU Habitats Directive lists certain habitats (listed in Annex I) and species (listed in Annex II) that must be conserved by designating and appropriately managing SACs. Habitats and species on these lists which are considered to be particularly endangered are called “priority” habitats and species. There are 59 habitats listed in Annex I in Ireland, including raised bogs, blanket bogs, turloughs, sand dunes and limestone pavement. Annex II species found in Ireland include salmon, otter, freshwater pearl mussel, Killarney fern and bottlenose dolphin. Each SAC is designated for one or more Annex I habitats and/or Annex II species. 429 SACs have been nominated for designation throughout the State.
The Natura 2000 network comprises the network of SACs and SPAs (Special Protection Areas for birds) throughout the EU. Between 1997 and 2002, Ireland nominated a total of 53 raised bog sites for designation as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). These areas were selected primarily for the presence of a habitat listed for priority protection under the Habitats Directive. This active raised bog habitat is in danger of disappearance within the EU and within Ireland.
Raised bogs are extremely rare in global and European terms. Ireland’s SACs contain the last functioning remnants of the great bogs that once covered much of Ireland’s midlands. The SACs are different from the vast majority of Ireland’s raised bogs, because they still have areas of active raised bog, where the conditions are right for peat to continue to form, and where species of plants and animals typical to bogs can thrive. Damaging activities such as land reclamation, drainage and peat extraction over time have left Ireland with less than 1% of the area of active raised bog we once had. These bogs also contain large tracts of degraded raised bog, which is the area of high, uncut bog which has been damaged by human activities but which could be transformed into active raised bog again through restoration measures.
Ireland, through successive Governments, has decided that for the benefit of all its citizens, and in the light of global concerns about loss of bio-diversity, a proportion of our remaining raised bogs should be protected. Ireland signed up to do this through the 1992 EU Habitats Directive which commits Ireland to the achievement of favourable conservation status for this and other endangered habitats. The key mechanisms to achieve this are the designation, protection, management and restoration of the Raised Bog SACs.
Ireland’s Raised Bog SACs are faced with a number of pressures which need to be addressed if they are to be effectively protected and restored, in line with the requirements of the Habitats Directive. There has been a significant decrease (circa 37%) in the area of active raised bog at these sites and the permanent loss of smaller areas of degraded raised bog that is capable of restoration.
National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan
The draft National Raised Bog Special Area of Conservation (SAC) Management Plan outlines the conservation objectives that have been set for raised bog sites and the proposed programme of measures to achieve those objectives, and outlines the options available to address the needs of those affected by the plan. The draft plan has been published and subject to a public consultation process. In the coming months the Department intends to finalise this plan.
Restoring Active Raised Bog LIFE Project
The ultimate objective of Ireland’s ‘Restoring Active Raised Bog in Irelands SAC Network 2016-2020’ LIFE project is to effectively increase the area for Active Raised Bog and the national habitat area on the 12 project sites through a variety of restoration measures. This project will support the objectives of the National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan.
The 12 SAC sites which will be part of the Restoring Active Raised Bog LIFE project are as follows:
|Life Project Site No||SAC Name||SAC Code||County|
|1.||Killyconny Bog||IE0000006||Cavan and Meath|
A project team will be recruited shortly to implement this project and will be located in a headquarters in proximity to the project sites.
National Peatlands Strategy
The National Peatlands Strategy is a comprehensive, strategic approach to the long-term management of peatlands in Ireland, including compliance with EU environmental law, climate change, forestry, flood control, energy, nature conservation, planning, and agriculture.
The Strategy provides a long-term framework within which all of the peatlands within the State can be managed responsibly in order to optimise their social, environmental and economic contribution to the well-being of this and future generations.
EU Life Programme
The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation by co-financing projects with European added value. For further details please see http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/index.htm