5,200ha of Irish Peatlands transformed into Carbon Store in 2021

Bord na Móna rehabilitated nearly 5,200ha (12,800 acres) of peatlands in the past year securing at least 7.5million tonnes of carbon.

The achievement is part of a substantial scheme begun in 2021 aimed at securing a vast peatlands carbon store, lowering emissions, and reviving the carbon capture function of peatlands. The scheme is supported by €108million of government and European funding and €18million from Bord na Móna. The company is using a range of enhanced rehabilitation measures to transform extensive areas of peatlands across the midlands of Ireland.

The total amount of peatlands now rehabilitated and restored by Bord na Móna is more than 25,000 hectares (over 61,000 acres). This is an area equivalent of about 19,600 GAA pitches* that if put end to end would stretch from Dublin to Moscow (over 2,800 km).

This growing area is creating a rich mosaic of biodiverse peatlands, incorporating important carbon sinks and stores. Theses extensive areas of restored and rehabilitated bogs are increasing biodiversity and providing new habitats for thousands of native plant and animal species.  The return of nesting Cranes to a Bord na Móna peatland after 300 years show the enormous future potential for nature to renew and restore itself. Ecologists are confident that the rewetting and rehabilitation programme will deliver similar wins in the future.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, said: “Bord na Móna has already rehabilitated and restored over 25,000 hectares of peatlands. This is a significant win for climate action. It shows what can be achieved, with targeted effort, in a short space of time. It’s important that we recognise the work being done by the team in Bord na Móna, including many former peat workers, who are now transforming dry peatlands into new wetlands. This, in turn, is creating a substantial carbon store, as well as habitats that are teeming with life and biodiversity.” 

Making the announcement, Bord na Móna Chief Executive Tom Donnellan said “Bord na Móna is marking World Wetlands Day by announcing an extraordinary 5,200 hectares of peatlands were rehabilitated in 2021. All our engineering, ecological and hydrological initiatives are aimed at harnessing the power of the peatlands to deliver major climate wins. Managed rewetting of these lands will secure over one hundred million tonnes of carbon in the ground, avoid significant emissions and are on track to capture millions more tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere in years to come. We are also transforming the entire appearance of extensive areas of land, creating rich and diverse habitats for our native plant and animal species. In addition, on some sites on these lands where we co-locate renewable energy and associated amenity infrastructure we ensure another win for the climate by reducing Ireland’s dependence on imported and polluting fossil fuels. There is a lot to celebrate today with some major wins for Ireland’s wetlands and climate”.

There are nearly 300 people employed in Peatland Rehabilitation and associated operations in Bord na Móna. Many of these new roles have been taken up by people who were previously employed in the extraction and transport of mostly peat-based fossil fuels. The company has also recruited engineers, ecologists, surveyors to deliver in the design and implementation of this highly significant environmental scheme.

Rehabilitation operations for 2021 were focused on eighteen bogs with the lion’s share in counties Offaly and Galway (east).

The county by county breakdown for 2021 was as follows:

  • Offaly: 2,519ha (6,224 acres)
  • Galway: 1,563ha (3,862acres)
  • Longford: 634ha   (1,566acres)
  • Roscommon: 354ha (875acres)
  • Kildare: 126ha   (311acres)