Offaly raised bogs to be restored with EU funds

Some of Ireland’s most important raised bogs are to be restored in a €5.5 million programme, with €4 million of this coming from the EU’s LIFE fund.

The restoration of active raised bogs across Ireland’s midlands in counties Offaly, Roscommon, Galway, Cavan, Meath and Westmeath as well as Longford, has been selected for funding in the latest round of support from LIFE. (Full list below.)

This means the communities around the region will see funds available for construction works such as raising water levels and restoring the natural condition of this increasingly rare habitat. The project will run from 2016 to 2020.

Active raised bogs (as opposed to the more common blanket bogs) are unique to the midlands of Ireland and have been referred to as Ireland’s rain forest, being of great importance for biodiversity, flood control and control of carbon emissions.

The areas of active raised bogs on protected SACs in Ireland decreased by 38% between 1995 and 2011 – the main reason being the pressure of turf cutting.

The EU’s LIFE programme supports nature conservation and climate action projects across the EU. Previously, the LIFE programme has supported the BurrenLIFE project ‘Farming for Conservation’ which helped sustainable farming thrive alongside the delicate ecosystems and outstanding beauty of the Burren in Co Clare.

The 12 SAC sites which will be part of the Restoring Active Raised Bog LIFE project are as follows:

Life Project Site No
SAC Name
SAC Code
County
1.
Killyconny Bog
IE0000006
Cavan and Meath
2.
Clara Bog
IE0000572
Offaly
3.
Ferbane Bog
IE0000575
Offaly
4.
Mongan Bog
IE0000580
Offaly
5.
Moyclare Bog
IE0000581
Offaly
6.
Raheenmore Bog
IE0000582
Offaly
7.
Sharavogue Bog
IE0000585
Offaly
8.
Carrowbehy/Caher Bog
IE0000597
Roscommon
9.
Derrinea Bog
IE0000604
Roscommon
10.
Garriskil Bog
IE0000679
Westmeath
11.
Carrownagappul Bog
IE0001242
Galway
12.
Ardagullion Bog
IE0002341
Longford
More information from the LIFE fund:

IRELAND (1 project – 5.4 million)
LIFE Nature & Biodiversity (1 project – 5.4 million)

LIFE Irish Raised Bogs (Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht): The objective of the project is to improve the conservation status of the Habitats Directive priority habitat ‘Active raised bog’, through restoration measures in 12 Natura 2000 sites in the Irish midlands. The project aims to secure local community cooperation, raise water levels to create the necessary conditions for active raised bogs, remove regenerating trees and shrubs, and put in place fire protection measures. Restoration work will improve a total of 2 649 ha of raised bog habitat.

Project details:

LIFE Irish Raised Bogs – Restoring Active

Raised Bog in Ireland’s SAC Network 2016 -2020

Project description:

Background

The conservation status of active raised bogs in Ireland is under increasing

pressure due to a long history of mismanagement, most notably turf cutting and associated drainage. It is estimated that there has been a 99% loss of the original area of actively growing raised bogs; while only about 1 650 ha of the remaining ‘intact’ high bog can now be classified as ‘Active Raised Bog’. There is an urgent need to reverse this decline and improve the conservation status of active raised bogs, by developing and implementing restoration measures to restore these sites to favourable condition.

Objectives

The overall objective of the LIFE Irish Raised Bogs project is to improve the

conservation status of the Annex I Habitats Directive habitat ‘Active Raised Bog’, through the protection and restoration of 12 Natura 2000 network sites in the midlands of Ireland. The specific objectives of the project are:

·         To secure landowner cooperation and local community involvement and support;

·         To raise water levels to create the necessary conditions for Active Raised Bog;

·         To remove naturally regenerating trees and shrubs;

·         To put in place fire protection measures; and

·         To fence project sites where necessary.

Expected results:

·         An initial indication of an improvement in the conservation status of Active

·         Raised Bog (although it could take 10-30 years for definitive results);

·         A total of 752 ha of Active Raised Bog restored across the 12 sites;

·         A total of 2 649 ha of raised bog habitat improved by restoration works across

·         the 12 sites;

·         Around 182 km of drains blocked on high and cutover bog areas using over 15

·         000 dams to raise water levels;

·         The clearance of naturally regenerating trees on up to 2 649 ha;

·         Fire plans prepared for all project sites and a fire prevention campaign run;

·         Up to 6 km of fencing erected where necessary;

·         A heightened public awareness of the importance of Ireland’s 53 raised bog SACs

·         and support from local communities for the urgent long-term conservation and

·         restoration measures needed;

·         Increased employment opportunities for rural communities;

·         EU added value provided in demonstrating how to implement policies requiring

·         engagement with rural-dwelling citizens, who represent about half the total

·         EU-28 population; and

·         Project techniques’ manual for transferability and replication of best practices.

Beneficiaries:

Coordinator Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG) oversees the conservation, preservation, protection and presentation of Ireland’s heritage and cultural assets. Within the organisation, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) section of the Department manages the Irish State’s nature conservation responsibilities under national and European law, including the designation and protection of Natura 2000 network sites.

 

 

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