Minister of State Malcolm Noonan visits revitalised bogs in Meath and Westmeath and meets with the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan T.D. today (17th August, 2020) spent a day visiting bogs in Meath and Westmeath which are being rejuvenated through efforts by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of his Department with the assistance of Bord Na Móna, by the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council and other agencies and through community efforts.
Crosswood Bog Special Area of Conservation in Co. Westmeath, which the Minister visited earlier today, is one of 9 raised bogs in the midlands region that Bord na Móna is project managing and undertaking restoration works on behalf of the NPWS of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to help return over 1800 hectares of bog to favourable conservation status. Restoration measures on raised bogs usually involves raising water levels close to the bog surface to help restore peat forming conditions and encourage the natural development of Spaghnum mosses which are the building blocks of peat. This restoration programme represents an important component of the Government’s Just Transition Plan by sustaining employment in midlands communities and aiding biodiversity in the region.
Restoring our protected raised bogs, an action within Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019, will also ensure that the carbon content of the peat within each bog is stored in perpetuity. Minister Noonan commented today that “these living bogs are of great importance for the delivery of ecosystem services such as biodiversity, flood control and in the reduction of carbon emissions. Restoration and rehabilitation of peatlands plays an important part in tackling the issues of climate change for Ireland and will help in moving Ireland towards carbon neutrality in its land use”. It is estimated that the restoration of over 1,800 hectares of raised bog, which is being funded under the Carbon Tax Fund, will contribute to a long term reduction of emissions of 4,945 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Minister Noonan later met with the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council and its honorary member. His Excellency Dr Adriaan Palm, Netherlands Ambassador to Ireland, at Girley Bog Natural Heritage Area and Special Area of Conservation in Co. Meath. The Council is an independent conservation organisation whose mission is to conserve a representative sample of the peatlands of Ireland for people to enjoy now and in the future. Minister Noonan whilst out walking on Girley Bog’s boardwalk stated that “it is my pleasure to meet with the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council and representatives from Girley Bog Meitheal today to see the wonderful work that is taking place here collaboratively in the conservation and promotion of this bog. It is an excellent example of people coming together with different backgrounds but common purposes to give their time, often voluntary, to develop this bog for the benefit of all and I commend them all for their efforts. Girley Bog in Ireland’s hidden heartlands is truly a special place for recreation and biodiversity”.
Bord na Móna’s Head of Energy Joe Lane said “Investment in restoration and rehabilitation of peatlands has enormous benefits for society both in terms of social and natural capital. Today highlights Bord na Móna’s role with the NPWS of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in climate action specifically in the area of peatland rehabilitation and carbon sequestration. We have worked to develop and implement best practice measures in terms of rehabilitation and restoration, delivering on government policy and national decarbonisation commitments. This programme with NPWS also supports national policy on biodiversity and will be important in changing how we manage and care for our land for a range of native species.”