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Minister taps trees and starts new Bord na Móna harvest

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Minister of State, Sean Canney, TD visited Derraghan Woods, Co. Longford today to tap birch trees and mark the beginning of a new season and a new departure for Bord na Móna.

In the company of Bord na Móna CEO, Tom Donnellan, the Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development started what may become a new spring tradition on Irelands ancient peatlands.

Birchwater is a popular drink across Finland and the Baltic States and provides a range of health benefits. Now, as part of Bord na Móna’s Brown to Green transformation, the ancient practice is starting to catch on again in Ireland. For just three weeks, as winter gives way to spring, water, minerals and sugars are pushed up from the roots of the birch, and the trunks are tapped releasing the valuable liquid.

The birchwater is collected using a method similar to the one used for harvesting maple syrup in North America. Bord na Móna is investigating the potential for birchwater harvesting as part of its strategy to expand its diverse range of low-carbon business operations.

Chief Executive of Bord na Móna, Tom Donnellan said: “I am delighted that Minister Canney is here to mark the start of this new type of harvest for Bord na Móna. Where we once milled peat, we are now harvesting a pure, new, entirely natural and organic health product. The birchwater project is still in its development phase but is progressing well with excellent harvest yields from these peatlands. This initiative has been in development since the end of 2018 and employs some people who previously worked in Bord na Móna’s peat harvesting business. We are looking forward to the next phase of its growth as it develops outlets for this unique product primarily in the food and drinks industries.”

The birchwater project is part of the accelerated (€1.6billion) development pipeline of renewable energy, resource recovery and new businesses outlined in the company’s Brown to Green Strategy.

Key objectives of this strategy include developing new employment opportunities and using our land for a range of new purposes including:

Pictured above: Minister of State, Sean Canney, TD (centre); Vincent Redmond, Head of New Business, Transition and Communications, Bord na Móna (L); & Tom Donnellan, CEO, Bord na Móna (R).