During the baseline survey carried out between 2000 and 2012, a number of raised bogs partially drained for peat production in the 1980s were subsequently identified as being of high ecological and conservation value, as well as having significant restoration potential. These bogs are essentially surplus to peat production requirements and lie outside the active industrial peat production areas. These high ecological value sites now form the core of the Bord na Móna Raised Bog Restoration Project (2009 to present) which has been developed as one strand of the Company’s Biodiversity Action Plan (2010 – 2015).
The main objective of this project is to restore raised bog habitats at several sites. Raised bogs are threatened habitats as only a small proportion of active raised bog still exists in Ireland. They contain a wide range of different species, many of which are threatened or under pressure in the wider landscape and are dependent on habitats like raised bogs. Restoration of ecosystem function at these sites will also help Ireland meet its biodiversity objectives including commitments to conserve raised bog habitats under the EU Habitats Directive.
|Year of Restoration||Bog Name||Total Area ha||County|
|Total restored||1,175 ha|
Bord na Móna and BirdWatch Ireland established a trial area in 2010 on Drinagh Bog (Boora complex) in County Offaly with a view to developing management techniques for breeding waders on cutaway bog in Ireland. The main work of scrub clearance, re-profiling and drain blocking was carried out over 30 ha between 2010 and 2011. The site has been monitored annually since.
Rehabilitation management has had a significant initial visual impact on the overall landscape of the trial area, creating a large open landscape comprising a mosaic of pioneer poor fen vegetation, drier exposed bare peat areas and some open water. A total of 10 wader pairs were recorded in the trial area in 2011 compared to 2 pairs in 2010, prior to any rehabilitation management.
A survey in 2014 found that the new wetland area was still providing important bird habitat. Twenty-Eight breeding bird species were recorded in the wetland including six Red-listed Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland (BoCCI) species, Meadow Pipit (6 territories); Black-headed Gull (5), Tufted Duck (2); Lapwing (2); Redshank (1) and Woodcock (1) were recorded, and a further five Amber-listed BoCCI species: Snipe (6 territories); Little Grebe (4); Water Rail (4); Skylark (5) and Robin (12).
The new wetland habitats are most important for a range of species of conservation concern including breeding waders and other water-bird species such as Little Grebe and Water Rail. Other factors such as likely predation are preventing breeding wader numbers from increasing since 2011. The wetland area also attracts a range of wintering bird species with species recorded in the past few years including Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Teal, Mallard, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Tufted Duck, Merlin and Hen Harrier.
Peatlands are globally important in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as it is estimated that they comprise up to 30% of the total global soil carbon pool. As peatlands develop, the build-up of plant and animal remains creates a store of carbon in a waterlogged and anoxic environment. Because of this waterlogged condition, there is limited scope for microbes to break down the peat and release carbon dioxide. When peatlands are drained, carbon is released mainly in the form of carbon dioxide and dissolved organic carbon.
This is also true for Irish peatlands and the role of managing Ireland’s peatlands has been highlighted in the National Peatlands Strategy (2015) as being important for future carbon accounting at a national level. Most of the Bord na Móna bogs have been drained at some point. Where possible Bord na Móna is restoring raised bogs to peat forming conditions – stopping further release of carbon dioxide and in time restoring the carbon sequestration function of the bog.
Bord na Móna is also funding research into determining the rate at which this switch occurs, and a project monitoring GHG emissions from a restored bog (Moyarwood in East Galway) was established in 2013, and is expected to continue to 2018.
Two GHG monitoring projects have also been carried out to inform rehabilitation measures on cutaway bogs – one in the rehabilitated Oweninny Bogs and one in a rehabilitated cutaway bog in
Blackwater Bog (West Offaly). Both studies show that rewetting of the cutaway and establishment of wetland habitats such as poor fen and reed bed, reduces carbon dioxide emissions and leads in time to carbon sequestration.
Each of the studies has informed national carbon accounting measures carried out by the EPA, and Bord na Móna’s Carbon Working Group established in 2009, tracks policy developments and accounting approaches in consultation with the EPA Climate Action team.