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Bog Restoration

Early Conservation

Bord na Móna has been involved in ecology and conservation since the 1970s. A group of Bord na Móna employees recognised the need to conserve and protect the best remaining examples of bogs for future generations. These individuals were Bord na Móna’s first ecologically minded employees and championed the conservation of bogs in Ireland both on the national and the international stages.

Early Conservation

Bord na Móna has been involved in ecology and conservation since the 1970s. A group of Bord na Móna employees recognised the need to conserve and protect the best remaining examples of bogs for future generations. These individuals were Bord na Móna’s first ecologically minded employees and championed the conservation of bogs in Ireland both on the national and the international stages.

Initial steps

During the Ecology Team baseline survey carried out between 2009 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.

Restoration Projects

Bord na Móna has carried out restoration works and actions to conserve bogs that are 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 current Bord na Móna Raised Bog Restoration Project (2009 to present) which has been developed as one strand of the company’s Biodiversity Action Plan (2016-2021).

Restoration Projects

Bord na Móna has carried out restoration works and actions to conserve bogs that are 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 current Bord na Móna Raised Bog Restoration Project (2009 to present) which has been developed as one strand of the company’s Biodiversity Action Plan (2016-2021).

Raised bog protection

The main objective of these projects is to restore raised bog habitats at several sites. Raised bogs are threatened, 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.

Ecosystems

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. Bog restoration also helps restore other ecosystem services including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving water quality and water storage capacity. It also provides space for the development of collaborative amenity and education projects.

Ecosystems

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. Bog restoration also helps restore other ecosystem services including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving water quality and water storage capacity. It also provides space for the development of collaborative amenity and education projects.

Restoration Approach

The principal method of raised-bog restoration is to restore raised-bog habitats by blocking drains, re-wetting the bog, restoring bog hydrology and aiding the development of Sphagnum-rich plant communities. Re-wetting encourages the growth of Sphagnum mosses, which require water-logged nutrient-poor conditions. Peat-forming or active raised bog is rich in Sphagnum mosses.

Rewetting Methods

Bog drains are blocked by peat-dams using a specially adapted low-bearing pressure excavator. The standard bog restoration methodology used in the Bord na Móna restoration work was developed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service under the Dutch-Irish Restoration programme in the 1990s.

Rewetting Methods

Bog drains are blocked by peat-dams using a specially adapted low-bearing pressure excavator. The standard bog restoration methodology used in the Bord na Móna restoration work was developed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service under the Dutch-Irish Restoration programme in the 1990s.

Monitoring

Changes in habitat quality of the restored sites are being monitored to assess the success of the work. This involves mapping habitat conditions and monitoring changes in bog-vegetation communities. In general, water levels have responded quickly and are being maintained close to the bog surface. There has already been a notable increase in Sphagnum cover in some sites already.

Reducing carbon emissions

Monitoring of greenhouse gases has taken place at Moyarwood as part of a larger project to assess the potential offset of carbon emissions. Preliminary results indicate that bog restoration has helped to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The bog restoration project has been ongoing for several years now and monitoring of the first restored sites indicates that the bog restoration works have had a positive impact. For example, the peat-forming habitat at Abbeyleix bog increased from 0.9 ha in 2009 to 3.2 ha in 2014.

Reducing carbon emissions

Monitoring of greenhouse gases has taken place at Moyarwood as part of a larger project to assess the potential offset of carbon emissions. Preliminary results indicate that bog restoration has helped to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The bog restoration project has been ongoing for several years now and monitoring of the first restored sites indicates that the bog restoration works have had a positive impact. For example, the peat-forming habitat at Abbeyleix bog increased from 0.9 ha in 2009 to 3.2 ha in 2014.

Restoration Progress

Over 2,500 hectares of raised-bog has been restored using this methodology so far and Bord na Móna will continue restoration with almost 5,000 hectares of high bog targeted in total. The work continues to be funded under the Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan. The majority of the sites restored so far are being considered for designation as part of the NATURA 2000 SAC network or as part of the national conservation network as NHAs (Natural Heritage Areas).

Comparison of 2009 and 2014 Abbeyleix Bog Ecotope maps

Comparison of the 2014 monitoring survey to the 2009 baseline showed that:

  • Active-bog habitat increased from 1 ha to 3.2 ha (orange sub-central areas on ecotope map)
  • Drain-blocking in 2009 has had a positive impact on bog condition
  • An overall increase in Sphagnum cover and wetter conditions

Comparison of 2009 and 2014 Abbeyleix Bog Ecotope maps

Comparison of the 2014 monitoring survey to the 2009 baseline showed that:

  • Active-bog habitat increased from 1 ha to 3.2 ha (orange sub-central areas on ecotope map)
  • Drain-blocking in 2009 has had a positive impact on bog condition
  • An overall increase in Sphagnum cover and wetter conditions

Abbeyleix_Map_Legend