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Peatland Habitats

Habitat development

The restoration or rehabilitation of Bord na Móna’s peatlands provides a wonderful opportunity to create space for nature to live and thrive, providing a nationally important refuge for many threatened species and habitats. There are many different types of habitats that attract many different types of flora and fauna. Initially, natural colonisation generally occurs after peat production and results in stabilisation of the bare peat surface by species such as rushes and sedges.

Habitat development

The restoration or rehabilitation of Bord na Móna’s peatlands provides a wonderful opportunity to create space for nature to live and thrive, providing a nationally important refuge for many threatened species and habitats. There are many different types of habitats that attract many different types of flora and fauna. Initially, natural colonisation generally occurs after peat production and results in stabilisation of the bare peat surface by species such as rushes and sedges.

Poor Fen

This is a very common habitat throughout the cutaway bogs and generally forms the intermittent phase between pioneer and more complex vegetation mosaics. Poor fen develops where the ground-water or surface flow of the cutaway is less acidic (compared to raised bog). This habitat supports a dense carpet of mosses and sedges. Key species are Soft Rush (Juncus effusus), Bog Cotton (Eriophorum angustifolium), Bottle Sedge (Carex rostrata) and mosses such as Spear-moss (Calliergonella cuspidata).

Rich Fen

This is relatively less frequent in occurrence and develops where there are mineral-rich springs present. A fen is a wetland characterised by the ground-water being rich in calcium, with a pH around 6-8. These special conditions give the rich fens a specialised flora, which is distinguished by its specialised mosses, known as brown mosses. Rich fen examples include Oughter bog and some of Clongawney bog, both part of the Boora complex in Offaly.

Rich Fen

This is relatively less frequent in occurrence and develops where there are mineral-rich springs present. A fen is a wetland characterised by the ground-water being rich in calcium, with a pH around 6-8. These special conditions give the rich fens a specialised flora, which is distinguished by its specialised mosses, known as brown mosses. Rich fen examples include Oughter bog and some of Clongawney bog, both part of the Boora complex in Offaly.

Restored Peatland Growth

In certain instances, conditions are appropriate on former peat production bogs such as the Atlantic blanket bogs in Mayo for the restoration of conditions for peat-forming Sphagnum species. This has led to the spontaneous establishment of peat-forming vegetation on the peatland following targeted rehabilitation to restore a suitable water table for these typical bog moss species.

Reed-Bed and Tall-Herb Swamps

These are generally associated with cutaway wetlands. In some places, they may form dense stands in the future, but so far they are growing within a complex of other habitat types. In areas where the bogs are drained using pumps, particularly along the River Suck and River Shannon, there will be a greater potential for reed-bed establishment in the future.

Reed-Bed and Tall-Herb Swamps

These are generally associated with cutaway wetlands. In some places, they may form dense stands in the future, but so far they are growing within a complex of other habitat types. In areas where the bogs are drained using pumps, particularly along the River Suck and River Shannon, there will be a greater potential for reed-bed establishment in the future.

Birch Woodland

This is one of the more common habitats in drier areas and will vary depending on local drainage and soils. Generally, where there are dry areas not suitable for re-wetting, birch woodland establishes. Birch is the predominant tree species along with Willow, with occasional Oak and Rowan. Conifers like Scot’s Pine and Lodgepole Pine also colonize these dry areas.

Dry heathland

This habitat generally establishes in close proximity to grassland areas on shallow peat. The vegetation is largely dominated by Ling Heather with a ground layer of drier heathland mosses and other species such as Bilberry and Cladonia lichen species.

Dry heathland

This habitat generally establishes in close proximity to grassland areas on shallow peat. The vegetation is largely dominated by Ling Heather with a ground layer of drier heathland mosses and other species such as Bilberry and Cladonia lichen species.

Wildlife corridors

There are connecting corridors between most of the bog areas via track-ways, railway lines and riparian zones. These potential biodiversity highways provide a valuable link for flora and fauna to move between areas. Good examples are the use of the riparian zones by otter and scrub and woodland along Bord na Móna railway lines by some bat species, making the most of the ecological network of sites and space for foraging, breeding and protection.